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B Vitamins Slow Brain Shrinkage: Implications for Alzheimer’s Disease
by admin on: January 16th, 2012

A study published in the journal Public Library of Science One(September 2010) has demonstrated that vitamin B could help offset the effects of Alzheimer???s disease.

One of the most serious symptoms of Alzheimer???s disease is ???brain shrinkage.” Under normal circumstances, adults over age 60 experience brain shrinkage ??? approximately 0.5 percent shrinkage for each year after 60. However, people diagnosed with Alzheimer???s disease experience an increased rate of shrinkage ??? about 2.5 percent of shrinkage each year. However, in this study, which lasted two years, when patients were given vitamin supplements (folate, B6 and B12), the rate of shrinkage was significantly slowed.

The shrinkage rate slowed, on average, by about 30 percent. However, in some cases, patients experienced a slowing of shrinkage by about 50 percent. Patients in this latter group had levels of shrinkage that were equivalent to non-Alzheimer???s patients. Brain shrinkage can also be described as ???brain atrophy.??? Brain atrophy is associated with cognitive decline or impairment which often results in dementia.

The authors of this study believe that these particular vitamins (folate, B6 and B12) are linked to the decrease in brain shrinkage. Their rationale is that these particular supplements control the levels of homocysteine that is present in the bloodstream. Homocysteine is an amino acid and epidemiological studies have shown that excessive levels of this amino acid is related to higher risk of coronary heart disease, peripheral vascular disease, stroke, and faster rates of brain shrinkage. Accordingly, the authors of the current study argue that these vitamins are performing a protective function in the brain.

One side note: the authors of this study did administer these vitamins at doses that were well above what is normally recommended. They suggest that follow up experiments are required to determine whether this dosage regimen of B vitamins can prevent people diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment from succumbing to Alzheimer???s disease.

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