Increase in serum homocysteine is shown to be a potential risk factor for cognitive impairment. Evidence suggests that vitamin B supplementation may reduce cognitive decline by lowering the homocysteine levels. The current meta-analysis evaluated the efficacy of folic acid along with vitamin B12 and/or B6 in lowering homocysteine, thereby attenuating cognitive decline in elderly patients with Alzheimer disease or dementia. Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) comparing the efficacy of folate and B vitamin supplementation in patients with cognitive decline secondary to Alzheimer disease or dementia were identified using the keywords, "homocysteine, hyper-homocysteinemia, B vitamin, vitamin B6, B12, folic acid, cognitive, Alzheimer's disease, and dementia." The outcome measures analyzed were the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) score and serum homocysteine. Of the 77 studies identified, 4 RCTs were included in the current meta-analysis. The baseline characteristics, age, and gender distribution of patients among the 2 groups (supplement vs placebo) were comparable. The results reveal that the intervention group achieved significantly greater reduction in homocysteine levels than the control (pooled difference in means = -3.625, 95% confidence interval [CI] = -5.642 to -1.608, P < .001). However, no significant difference in MMSE (pooled difference in means = 0.027, 95% CI = -0.518 to 0.573, P = 0.921) was observed between the groups. Taken together, vitamin B supplementation was effective in reducing serum homocysteine levels. However, it did not translate into cognitive improvement, indicating that the existing data on vitamin B-induced improvement in cognition by lowering homocysteine levels are conflicting.
Keywords: aged; cognitive disorders; folic acid; homocysteine; vitamin B 6; vitamin B12.