Nutrition and Healing
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  • Don’t let folic acid follies damage your brain

    Heart disease may be the number-one killer in America — but when it comes to which diseases Americans fear most, it can’t hold a candle to Alzheimer’s.

    In a 2011 study by one of America’s top pollsters, 31 percent of Americans said they feared developing Alzheimer’s more than any other disease on the planet. That’s FOUR TIMES the number of people who said they feared heart disease, and only cancer was rated more frightening.

    Believe me, I get it. Alzheimer’s is a terrifying disease, and no one want to spend their golden years robbed of his most cherished memories, suffering from mood swings and a near-total lack of independence.

    But here’s the problem — in the fight to protect your brain from the ravages of cognitive decline, a common misperception may be leading you to consume the wrong supplements.

    In fact, the supplements you’re popping day after day might not be doing a darned thing to shield your brain!

    Here’s the scoop. Study after study has shown that folate, a naturally occurring B vitamin, may hold the key to warding off dementia and Alzheimer’s. One study of Korean seniors found that those with the lowest levels of folate were far likelier to develop dementia as they aged.

    As news spread about the wonders of folate, many earnest folks like you started taking folic acid supplements believing they were getting all the brain-boosting folate they needed.

    But here’s a fact that never seems to find its way to most consumers — folic acid is NOT folate (Dr. Wright explained the critical differences in detail in his June 2010 issue of Nutrition & Healing. Subscribe today to access his archives). Even worse, as you get older, folic acid may not do you much good at all!

    That’s confusing, I know –I recently had to have Dr. Wright explain it to me myself.

    You see, human cells can’t use folic acid. Fortunately our livers can help transform it into brain-fortifying folate. But as we get older — and need folate more than ever — our bodies become less and less efficient at converting folic acid to folate. Some folks, due to genetic disorders, can’t convert folic acid to folate at all!

    As you age, your bloodstream may be literally swimming in unmetabolized folic acid that isn’t helping your brain one bit. Unfortunately, this isn’t exactly news to the medical community — they know folic acid is less effective, but they use it anyway because it’s cheaper, easier to make, and lasts longer.

    Supplement makers may choose to use folic acid instead of folate, but you’re under no such obligation.

    To give your brain the true protection it needs, look for supplements that contain genuine folate. They may cost a little more, and you may have to look a bit harder — but if you’re serious about spending your golden years free from cognitive decline and heart-wrenching ailments like Alzheimer’s disease, taking folate instead of folic acid may be the best brain health decision you’ve ever made.

    Sources:

    Folate Deficiency May Triple Dementia Risk in the Elderly: (medscape.com)

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