Saturday, August 29, 2015

B Vitamins Offer Low-Cost Alzheimer's Prevention

Broccoli, spinach, cabbage, lettuce & radishes NUTRITION VIDEO + ARTICLE:

Should you be taking B vitamins to protect against Alzheimer's? Given their measurable brain-benefits and low price, see how researchers are sounding off on some exciting new Vitamin B studies.

An exciting B-Vitamin study was carried out by researchers from the University of Oxford, the University of Warwick, and the University of Oslo, Norway.

It was funded by a wide range of charitable organizations and research institutes.

Continued below video on B vitamins and Alzheimer's...

The study was published in the peer-reviewed Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS).

The researchers hold patents on the use of B vitamins to treat Alzheimer’s disease or mild cognitive impairment, meaning they could benefit financially if vitamin B treatments were licensed for this use.

What kind of research was this?

This was a randomised controlled trial that aimed to determine whether B vitamins are effective in preventing the shrinkage of grey matter in areas of the brain known to be vulnerable to Alzheimer’s disease, especially those regions linked to mental processes.

This was a secondary analysis of data collected in a previous study which found that B vitamins reduce whole volume brain shrinkage.

A randomised controlled trial is the best type of study design to address this question.

What did the research involve?

The researchers randomised 156 elderly volunteers with memory complaints who fulfilled criteria for mild cognitive impairment to receive B vitamin treatment (folic acid 0.8mg/day, vitamin B12 0.5mg/day, vitamin B6 20mg/day) or placebo for 24 months.

Images of the participants’ brains were taken at the start and end of the study using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The researchers compared the images to see whether B vitamins prevented shrinkage of grey matter in areas of the brain affected by the Alzheimer’s disease, especially those regions linked to mental processes.

What were the basic results?

Grey matter volumes were similar at the start of the study in both groups. Over the course of the study, areas of grey matter shrunk in both the placebo and B vitamin groups. However, participants who received B vitamins had less shrinkage of certain areas of grey matter than participants who received placebo.

The researchers report that significant reductions in grey matter loss were seen in some of the regions most affected in Alzheimer’s disease.

The researchers drew on the results of previous research, which has found that levels of an amino acid called homocysteine may play a role in cognitive impairment, Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia.

They found that participants with higher homocysteine levels had smaller brain volume, and a faster reduction in brain size.

B vitamin treatment had no effect in participants who had homocysteine levels below the median (average), but significantly reduced grey matter loss in participants with homocysteine levels above the median.    

The researchers also monitored changes in participants’ scores on a variety of neuropsychological scales. They found that scores were correlated with grey matter loss in certain regions, some of which shrunk less with vitamin-B treatment than placebo in participants with high homocysteine levels.

Based on these findings, the researchers suggest that changes in vitamin B12 levels that occur with B vitamin treatment leads to a reduction in homocysteine levels. This decreases the rate of grey matter loss. This in turn affects neuropsychological functioning.

How did the researchers interpret the results?

The researchers conclude that, “our results show that B-vitamin supplementation can slow the atrophy [shrinkage] of specific brain regions that are a key component of the Alzheimer’s disease process and that are associated with cognitive decline.”

They go on to suggest that “further B vitamin supplementation trials focusing on elderly subjects with high homocysteine levels are warranted to see if progression to dementia can be prevented.”

Preventing Alzheimer’s disease-related gray matter atrophy by B-vitamin treatment

Behind The Headlines - Health News from NHS Choices
U.S. National Library of Medicine - PubMed Health

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