“In this small intervention trial, B vitamins appear to slow cognitive and clinical decline in people with MCI, in particular in those with elevated homocysteine,” the researchers wrote in the University of Oxford-sponsored study.
“Further trials are needed to see if this treatment will slow or prevent conversion from MCI to dementia.”
The research team, led by Celeste A de Jager, focused on homocysteine levels – a risk factor in the onset of Alzheimer’s disease – which among the 70 year+ participants dropped by 30% compared to those on the placebo.
“There was significant benefit of B-vitamin treatment among participants with baseline homocysteine above the median (11.3mmol/L) in global cognition (Mini Mental State Examination, P<0.001), episodic memory (Hopkins Verbal Learning Test–delayed recall, P=0.001) and semantic memory (category fluency, P=0.037),” they wrote.
The 133 trial participants each received a daily dose of 0.8mg folic acid, 0.5mg vitamin B12 and 20mg vitamin B6 for two years while another 133 received placebo.
“Although the sizes of the effects of B-vitamin treatment were relatively modest, the fact that they were highly significant and were found in several cognitive domains and also in clinical assessments is consistent with an effect of the intervention on disease progression,” the researchers said.
They noted their findings contradicted other studies.
“The reason may be related to several differences between our trial and previous studies. We included participants with MCI, who were followed for [two years], during which the placebo group underwent significant cognitive decline.”