October 29, 2012

Homocysteine, Mild Cognitive Impairment and Dementia

The story of the relationship between homocysteine and dementia stems from observations made during the last century concerning clinical signs and symptoms seen in patients with B vitamin deficiencies.

It is really only in the last few decades though that doctors began to wonder whether these deficiencies might actively contribute to age related memory decline. And, in historical terms, it is very recent indeed that subtle evidence of B vitamin deficiency became associated with the specific dementia of Alzheimer’s disease.  Prior to this, the predominantly held view was that such deficiencies arose simply as a result of dementia-related malnutrition.

To better understand all this, over the coming weeks, our new Blog will detail the history of the discovery of vitamin B12 and folic acid, and will focus on clinical observations about their association with memory and dementia.  There is now of course a great deal of interest in this area of research following the discovery in 1998 of high blood homocysteine levels in patients with Alzheimer and vascular type dementia.

However, we will see that the relationship is complex. In order to fully understand it, we will need to look not only at the vitamins themselves, but also at some of the biochemistry and neurology that lies behind this research. Dont panic though! We plan to do this in small "blog sized" stages, so check back again for regular updates.

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