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Folic Acid: Strengthening the Immune System in the Elderly

old message Folic Acid: Strengthening the Immune System in the Elderly Darrell Miller 01/09/06


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Date: January 09, 2006 09:38 AM
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Subject: Folic Acid: Strengthening the Immune System in the Elderly

Folic Acid: Strengthening the Immune System in the Elderly

By Greg Arnold, DC, CSCS, December 20, 2005, abstracted from “Dietary folate improves age-related decreases in lymphocyte function” in the January 2006 issue of the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry Recent research has elucidated health-promoting roles for folic acid beyond that of insuring normal development of the fetus. In addition to helping decrease neural tube defects,1 folic acid can also help treat inflammatory bowel disease 2 improve memory 3 and help decrease an amino acid in the body, homocysteine,4 that increases heart disease risk.5 Now a new study 6 has found another way that folic acid can help us age more gracefully: by helping strengthen our immune system. Recognizing the importance of nutrition in the overall health of the immune system 7 and knowing that certain types of immune system cells, called “T cells”, decrease with age,(8,9) researchers fed 11-month-old and 23-month-old male rats either a control diet or a diet fortified with 35.7 mg per kg of folic acid for three weeks. Researchers found “a significant” increase in immune system strength in the folic acid group, specifically that of increased T cell levels, other immune system proteins called IL-2, IL-4, and anti-cancer proteins called “tumor necrosis factor”. While the study reaffirmed the immune system’s weakening with increasing age, the researchers concluded that “supplementing…with additional folate improves [immune system function] and that dietary folate requirement may be higher in the older population than in the younger population to support immune functions.” Greg Arnold is a Chiropractic Physician practicing in Danville, CA. You can contact Dr. Arnold directly by emailing him at mailto:ChiroDocPSUalum@msn.com or visiting his website www.CompleteChiropracticHealthcare.com Reference:
1 “Spina Bifida and Anencephaly Before and After Folic Acid Mandate --- United States, 1995--1996 and 1999—2000” from MMWR Weekly 2004; 53(17): 362-365
2 Danese S. Homocysteine triggers mucosal microvascular activation in inflammatory bowel disease. Am J Gastroenterol. 2005 Apr;100(4):886-95
3 “The First Ever Dementia Conference Opens In Washington, DC” posted on the Alzheimer’s Association Website www.alz.org/preventionconference/pc2005/overview.asp
4 Daly S. Low-dose folic acid lowers plasma homocysteine levels in women of child-bearing age. QJM. 2002 Nov;95(11):733-40
5 Stampfer J. Homocysteine levels and cardiovascular disease. Am Fam Physician. 1997 Oct 15;56(6):1568, 1571-2
6 C.J. Field, I.R. Johnson and P.D. Schley, Nutrients and their role in host resistance to infection, J Leukoc Biol 71 (2002), pp. 16–32
7 L. Haynes, S.M. Eaton, E.M. Burns, M. Rincon and S.L. Swain, Inflammatory cytokines overcome age-related defects in CD4 T cell responses in vivo, J Immunol 172 (2004), pp. 5194–5199
8 R.B. Effros, Replicative senescence of CD8 T cells: effect on human ageing, Exp Gerontol 39 (2004), pp. 517–524






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