Effects of folic acid supplementation on psychomotor performance and hemorheology in healthy elderly subjects

Arch Gerontol Geriatr. Jul-Aug 2006;43(1):127-37. doi: 10.1016/j.archger.2005.10.002. Epub 2005 Dec 15.


Cognitive impairment is associated with increased blood concentrations of homocysteine and high blood viscosity. Previous studies have shown that vitamin B supplementation reduces homocysteine and enhances cognitive function in patients with mild dementia and low serum folic acid. However, whether folic acid enhances cognitive function in elderly subjects without dementia and normal serum folic acid is unknown. Twenty-four healthy elderly subjects (age 73.0+/-5.6 years, mean+/-S.D.) with normal serum folic acid (6.3+/-2.4 microg/l) and Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE) >27/30 were randomized to 4-week treatment with folic acid 5mg/day or placebo in a randomized, placebo-controlled, parallel-group study. Continuous Attention Test (CAT), Four-Choice Reaction Time (FCRT), Digit-Symbol Substitution (DSS), Scanning Memory Sets (SMS), and blood viscosity for different shear rates were measured before and after treatment. Folic acid supplementation induced a significant increase in serum folic acid levels (+13.8 versus +1.6 microg/l, p<0.001) and fall in homocysteine levels (-1.91 versus -0.41 micromol/l, p=0.05) compared to placebo. However, there was no significant change in CAT, FCRT, DSS, SMS, and blood viscosity between the two groups. Short-term folic acid supplementation does not enhance psychomotor performance or reduce blood viscosity in healthy elderly subjects with normal serum folic acid levels and preserved cognitive function.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Blood Viscosity
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Female
  • Folic Acid / pharmacology*
  • Hematinics / pharmacology*
  • Hemorheology / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Psychomotor Performance / drug effects*


  • Hematinics
  • Folic Acid