No one wants to see a loved one lose their memory, but, unfortunately, this situation is all too common. Alzheimer’s disease affects up to half of all people over the age of 85. Fortunately, lifestyle changes such as regular exercise, an antioxidant-rich diet, and keeping the mind active may help to prevent Alzheimer’s disease. What about nutritional supplements? A new study shows that taking B vitamins could offer some protection against Alzheimer’s disease.
B Vitamin Supplementation to Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease
Researchers followed 168 people with mild memory problems for a period of two years. Half of the participants took B vitamin supplements, while the others took a placebo. At the end of the two years, they looked for any changes in brain volume, indicating brain atrophy – a sign of mild cognitive impairment. Mild cognitive impairment can be a precursor to Alzheimer’s disease.
What did they find? The group who used B vitamin supplementation for two years had a brain shrinkage rate of 0.76% per year, compared to 1.08% yearly in the placebo group. This translates into 30% less brain shrinkage in the group taking B vitamins.
Taking B Vitamins to Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease: Is It a Good Idea?
This study showed that B vitamin supplementation reduced the rate of brain atrophy, but it’s unclear whether that translates into a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
On the other hand, there is some science behind taking B vitamins to prevent Alzheimer’s disease. Taking B vitamins decreases levels of homocysteine, an amino acid which is associated not only with a higher risk of dementia, but a great risk of heart disease as well.
Does lowering homocysteine levels reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, or is it only a marker for a person at high risk? No one knows for sure. Previous studies show that people who already have Alzheimer’s disease don’t benefit from taking B vitamins. Whether or not B vitamin supplementation can prevent dementia is another question.
B Vitamin Supplementation to Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease: The Bottom Line?
More studies are needed before most doctors will feel comfortable recommending B vitamin supplements to prevent Alzheimer’s. Some studies even show that the B vitamin, folate, increases the risk of prostate and colon cancer in men.
On the other hand, B vitamin deficiencies, especially B12 deficiency, aren’t uncommon in older people and can cause signs and symptoms that are difficult to distinguish from Alzheimer’s disease. For this reason, it’s a good idea to check a B12 level if you’re over the age of fifty. Ask your doctor about this – and get plenty of B vitamins naturally – from food sources.
Nutraingredients-USA website. “Vitamin B may help prevent Alzheimer’s”