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Folic Acid May Help Memory

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Dr. Kim Mulvihill reportingFolic acid has been proven to reduce birth defects. Research suggests it helps ward off heart disease and strokes, too.

There's new reason to include folic acid in your diet-- it could help protect your memory.

Dutch researchers studied about 800 healthy people ages 50 to 75. Half got 800 micrograms of folic acid a day, twice the recommended daily dose in America. The other half got a sugar pill. After three years, those taking folic acid scored significantly better and faster on memory tests, as if their brains were younger.

"There are lifestyle issues, dietary issues in this instance, that can promote brain health, and possibly reduce our risk of developing Alzheimer's disease," said Bill Fisher, CEO of the Northern California Alzheimer's Association.

Folic acid or folate is plentiful in dark green leafy vegetables, citrus fruits and juices, beans, whole grains, and in all fortified cereals and bread. You can also buy it in a pill. But taking the vitamin won't guarantee you can prevent Alzheimer's. Not enough is known about what causes the disease. But one fact is certain: it's a huge disease that threatens to get larger as our population ages.

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