One potentially emerging biomarker for risk of Alzheimer's disease could be blood levels of homocysteine. In a study of 164 patients with clinical diagnoses of dementia of the Alzheimer's type and 108 controls, the patients with Alzheimer's disease had significantly higher levels of total homocysteine and significantly lower levels of serum vitamin B12 and folate compared to controls.44 In addition, a follow-up for three years of the subjects with Alzheimer's disease showed a correlation between the progression of the disease measured radiographically and the level of homocysteine seen at the beginning of the study. Additional studies have shown that higher folate intake may decrease the risk of Alzheimer's disease independent of other risk factors and levels of vitamins B6 and B12.45 Such research may underscore the importance of maintaining a healthy vasculature throughout the whole body. Indeed, as we learn more about the involvement of vascular health as it relates to dementia, we may begin to see that cardiovascular disease and dementia are varying manifestations of the same underlying, and treatable, deficiencies and imbalances. The same supplemental vitamin B12 and folic acid that may curb the chronic inflammation of cardiovascular disease associated with increased homocysteine, may help to support and protect the cerebral vasculature of patients with dementia who also tend to suffer from homocysteinemia.
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