The research by Douaud et al. published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that this part of the brain shrank slower in people with mild cognitive impairment when they took B Vitamins.
To reach these conclusions, the researcher gave 156 elderly people with mild cognitive impairment, the stage before dementia or Alzheimer’s, a combination of vitamin B12 (500 mcg), B6 (20 mg) and folic acid or placebo pills over a two year period.
The 80 subjects receiving B Vitamins showed significantly less brain degeneration than the placebo group.
Disease shrinks eight times
Lead researcher David Smith of Oxford University said: "In those with high homocysteine levels, the specific areas of the brain associated with Alzheimer's, disease shrank eight times more slowly in those taking B vitamins than in those on the placebo.”
“This is strongly indicative that the B vitamins may be substantially slowing down, or even potentially arresting, the disease process in those with early stage cognitive decline.”
“This is the first treatment that has been shown to potentially arrest Alzheimer’s related brain shrinkage.”
Research Author: Elderly could benefit
Previous research has shown that raised levels of plasma total homocysteine (tHcy) are associated with cognitive impairment, Alzheimer's Disease, or vascular dementia.
The present study concluded that B-vitamin treatment could lower mean plasma tHcy levels by 29%.
Smith said: "This makes the need for early screening for the first signs of cognitive decline from the age of 50…vitally important, backed up by homocysteine testing and potential B vitamin treatment.
“Our study shows that those with a homocysteine level above 10mcmol/l, which is about half of all people over age 65, potentially may benefit with reduced brain shrinkage by taking high dose B6, B12 and folic acid, but this should be done under medical supervision.”
Proceedings of the National Academy Sciences (In Press)
‘Preventing Alzheimer's disease-related gray matter atrophy by B vitamin treatment’
Authors: Douaud, G., et al.