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B Vitamins May Help Protect Against Brain Shrinkage

Some degree of atrophy and subsequent brain shrinkage is common with old age, even in people who are cognitively healthy. However, this atrophy is accelerated in people with mild cognitive impairment. A recent study has found that supplementation with B vitamins may help reduce brain atrophy and improve cognitive function.

Participants in the study included 545 adults with an average age of 76 who had been diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment. They were given a supplement containing 500 µg of Vitamin B12 and 400 µg of folic acid or a placebo daily for 2 years.

Participants performed cognitive functioning tests at baseline and at the end of the study period. The researchers conducted brain MRI scans at baseline and at the end of the study period to measure brain atrophy. They also categorized the participants as users or non-users of aspirin.

All participants in the vitamin B group saw significant reductions in the rate of brain atrophy. Overall, supplementation with B vitamins did not have a significant effect on cognitive functioning. However, participants who did not use aspirin saw significant improvements in clinical dementia rating scores.

The study was conducted by researchers from the Chinese University of Hong Kong and Oxford University. It was published online ahead of print on November 24, 2021 in The Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging.

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