Quality CareFind out why Mayo Clinic is the right place for your health care. Make an appointment.
Meet the StaffFind a directory of doctors and departments at all Mayo Clinic campuses. Visit now.
Research and Clinical TrialsSee how Mayo Clinic research and clinical trials advance the science of medicine and improve patient care. Explore now.
Visit Our SchoolsEducators at Mayo Clinic train tomorrow’s leaders to deliver compassionate, high-value, safe patient care. Choose a degree.
Professional ServicesExplore Mayo Clinic’s many resources and see jobs available for medical professionals. Get updates.
Give to Mayo ClinicHelp set a new world standard in care for people everywhere. Give now.
Mayo Clinic offers appointments in Arizona, Florida and Minnesota and at Mayo Clinic Health System locations.
Subscribe to Housecall
Our general interest e-newsletter keeps you up to date on a wide variety of health topics.
There's no conclusive evidence that folic acid supplements improve cognitive function in older adults or in people with Alzheimer's disease or other types of dementia.
Blood levels of folate are classified as either low or normal in the general population. Low folate blood levels are associated with poor cognitive performance, which could be improved by folic acid supplements. However, folic acid is not helpful for people with normal blood levels.
One study showed cognitive function was significantly better in one group of older adults who took folic acid supplements than in those who did not. However, the participants in this study were already at some risk of cognitive decline with measured deficient blood levels of folate. So the results of this study can be generalized neither to all older adults nor to those with Alzheimer's disease.
Reviews of randomized, controlled trials found that the use of folic acid supplements has no benefit on cognitive function in healthy adults or in those with mild to moderate cognitive decline or dementia.
So although it doesn't appear that a folic acid supplement would benefit everyone, it may be something worth discussing with your doctor. Keep in mind that in the United States many foods, such as breads and cereals, are fortified with folic acid. If you're at high risk of developing dementia or have already experienced some cognitive decline, checking your folic acid levels may be a reasonable step.
Paul Y. Takahashi, M.D.
Mayo Clinic does not endorse companies or products. Advertising revenue supports our not-for-profit mission.
Check out these best-sellers and special offers on books and newsletters from Mayo Clinic.
Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit organization and proceeds from Web advertising help support our mission. Mayo Clinic does not endorse any of the third party products and services advertised.
A single copy of these materials may be reprinted for noncommercial personal use only. "Mayo," "Mayo Clinic," "MayoClinic.org," "Mayo Clinic Healthy Living," and the triple-shield Mayo Clinic logo are trademarks of Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research.