For Canada's 150th Birthday, my research was profiled in the Faces of Health Research, by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).
Dr. Nafisa M. Jadavji
Vascular cognitive impairment (VCI) is the second leading cause of dementia after Alzheimer's disease. The clinical presentation of VCI varies and there are no treatments for VCI since the actual pathology remains unknown. Nutrition is a risk factor for VCI, specifically high levels of homocysteine, a common amino acid in blood. B vitamins, such as folic acid, can reduce levels of homocysteine.
My research program focuses on how nutrition affects the brain. Our results suggest that it is not elevated levels of homocysteine making the brain more vulnerable to VCI, but rather, a deficiency in folic acid. In the cell, folic acid is involved in essential functions that help the cell survival.
Reduced levels of folic acid may be changing the cells in the brain, making them more vulnerable to damage. More research is required to understand how nutrition can be used to promote healthy brain aging.