Vitamin B and Memory
Wednesday, July 08, 2020
Scientists from Oxford University say daily tablets of large doses of B vitamins can halve the rate of brain shrinkage in elderly people with memory problems and may slow their progression toward dementia.
Their findings are based on a two year trial of 168 volunteers over 70 and is the largest to study the effect of B vitamins on mild cognitive impairment, and one of the first disease-modifying trials in the Alzheimer's field to show positive results in people.
Certain B vitamins - folic acid, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12 - are known to control levels of the amino acid homocysteine in the blood, and high levels of homocysteine are associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer's.
So the Oxford team set out to see whether supplements of the B vitamins that lower homocysteine could slow the higher rate of brain shrinkage, or atrophy, observed in mild cognitive impairment or Alzheimer's. During this time, half were given high doses of vitamin B12, B6 and folic acid – 300, 20 and 4 times the UK guideline daily amounts, respectively. The rest took a placebo.
The team found that on average the brains of those taking the folic acid, vitamin B6 and B12 treatment shrank at a rate of 0.76% a year, while those in the placebo group had a mean brain shrinkage rate of 1.08%. People with the highest levels of homocysteine benefited most, showing atrophy rates on treatment that were half of those on placebo.
Alzheimer’s is a mind-wasting disease for which there are few treatments and no cure, and which affects 26 million people around the world. This is indeed exciting news for those who are at risk of developing the disease - that they may actually be able to slow its onset through daily B vitamins.