B vitamins may help preserve brain size and function
by Newsletter Editor
The brain shrinks with age, and shrinkage in certain areas of the brain is linked to Alzheimer’s disease (AD). At the start of this study, doctors measured brain size in older adults with higher chances of developing AD and found no differences in the volume of gray matter.
Participants then took a placebo or 800 mcg of folic acid, 500 mcg of vitamin B12, and 20 mg of vitamin B6 per day. Over the next two years, both groups lost gray matter, but the placebo group lost seven times more gray matter than the B-vitamin group, which lost just one-half percent. Also, in the placebo group, those with high levels of homocysteine, an inflammatory factor linked to AD, lost more gray matter compared to those with lower homocysteine levels. In the B vitamin group, doctors observed a chain of events in those with high homocysteine levels: B vitamins lowered homocysteine, which directly slowed the shrinking of gray matter, reducing cognitive decline after two years.
Reference: Proc Natl Acad Sci USA.2013 Jun 4;110(23):9523-8