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Appreciating middle age

Middle-aged people may run the world, but you would hardly know it from their public image.

Filmmakers and advertisers specialize in admiring portrayals of teens and twentysomethings, but those in the middle decades of their lives are usually depicted as doing little more than serving time between the turbulence of youth and the decline of old age -- and occasionally being tipped into crisis by the sheer ennui of their mundane existence.

The assumption that middle age is a pretty nondescript phase of life seems to have extended to scientists, too: Pediatricians and gerontologists abound, but there are few "middle-age-ologists."

But look past the spreading waistlines and the reading glasses and it becomes apparent that middle age is actually both rare and remarkable. Humans are the only animals to enjoy a lengthy post-reproductive, pre-decrepitude chapter in our lives. There's a case to be made for looking at middle age as a developmental phase that is just as remarkable as the teenage years. Appreciating that can only promote harmony -- both for the middle-aged and for those who live with them.


B for brain health

A study from Australian researchers further confirmed a link between B vitamins and brain function in older people.

Previous studies have shown that low levels of the B vitamins folic acid and vitamin B12 may lead to rapid deterioration of brain function in the elderly, which can develop into forms of dementia, such as Alzheimer's disease. In this randomized controlled trial, scientists investigated cognitive function in a group of 900 older adults with high levels of psychological distress, who were living in the community.

Subjects were divided into two groups, one of which received daily oral supplements of 400 micrograms (mcg) folic acid and 100 mcg vitamin B12, along with promotion of physical activity and interventions for reducing symptoms of depression for two years. The other group received placebo treatment.

At study's end, the folic acid plus vitamin B12 group showed improvements in cognitive functioning, particularly in immediate and delayed memory performance, compared to the group receiving placebo treatment.

Compiled from News wire sources