B vitamins stop brain shrinkage preventing dementia

  • 8 Sep 2010
  • Reading time 3 mins
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Dementia and Alzheimer’s are very real concerns for all of us. Today, a definitive study is published that provides proof that there is something we can do to help halt the brain shrinkage seen with age-related cognitive decline.

Perhaps we can prevent the associated conditions reaching the epidemic levels that are predicted. Research carried out by Professor David Smith and his team at Oxford University has shown that reducing homocysteine with high-dose B vitamins really can arrest the brain shrinkage associated with developing Alzheimer’s. The results have been published on-line at the Public Library of Science. Smith’s team studied the effects of giving homocysteine-lowering B vitamins (folic acid 800mcg, B6 20mg and B12 500mcg) or placebo to 270 people with age-related memory decline, but not yet diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

They also tested their homocysteine levels and did an MRI brain scan in most of the participants at the beginning and end of the 24-month trial, making it perhaps the most thorough piece of research on this subject to date. The results showed that in the placebo group, the higher the homocysteine level the greater was the rate of brain shrinkage, with those above 13μmol/L (in the top quarter of the population) showing double the rate of brain shrinkage (1.5% per year) compared to 0.8% in those with homocysteine levels below 10.

The cut-off point for an effect was 10, so you want to make sure your homocysteine level is certainly below 10, although a level below 7 is optimal, especially if you are younger. What’s more, the rate of brain shrinkage was a strong predictor of cognitive function. In those with levels above 13μmol/L and taking B vitamins, a 53% reduction in the rate of shrinkage was noted, compared to placebo. Since the brain does normally shrink with age, this reduction was equivalent to stopping any abnormal shrinkage characteristic of those who go on to develop Alzheimer’s disease.

These results provide the strongest evidence yet that keeping your homocysteine low will protect you from Alzheimer’s disease. There are other studies and anecdotal reports that support this, and I discuss these in more detail – along with the politics of this discovery – in my current 100% Health newsletter. 100%health members can click here to access, and non-members can find out how to access this information here. You may be wondering if decreasing brain shrinkage results in positive memory improvements. This study, and others, have reported a very clear association in this regard, but definitive research in this regard is underway, probably for publication next year. So watch this space. But for now, I recommend that you get your homocysteine tested. If your doctor won’t do this, you can do it yourself with Yorktest’s home test kit.

Smith’s result suggests accelerated brain shrinkage starts from around 10μmol/L, so make sure your level is well below this – ideally below 7. If your level is raised, you need to supplement a homocysteine-lowering formula of B vitamins and supporting nutrients. For levels above 9, this would look something like 800mcg folic acid, 500mcg B12, 75mg B6, 20mg B2, 15mg zinc, 1.5-3g Trimethylglycine (TMG) and 500g N-Acetyl-Cysteine. If your test revels levels about 15, then you need slightly higher doses. But you can read more about exactly what to supplement – and diet and lifestyle factors that can help to reduce high homocysteine – in my Special Report How to Lower Your Homocysteine Level. And for the definitive guide to reducing your risk of Alzheimer’s, I suggest you read my book The Alzheimer’s Prevention Plan.

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