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B Vitamins May Help Slow Cognitive Decline

A recent study suggests that taking B vitamins — including folate and vitamin B12 — may help slow down the decline in brain function in people with dementia.

For this review, researchers examined studies that looked at the effects of diet on brain functioning and healthy aging. They found that , while the body of research is inconsistent, there is “clearer evidence to support a role for folate and related B vitamins in slowing the progression of cognitive decline and possibly reducing the risk of depression in aging.”

The researchers called for more well-designed randomized control studies to examine the effects of vitamin B on aging, particularly in people with low vitamin B levels.

Researchers from Ulster University Coleraine in Northern Ireland led the study. It was published in the March 2017 issue of Nutrition Bulletin.

Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin that is essential to the proper function of the brain, nervous system and formation of blood. Deficiencies in vitamin B12 can lead to fatigue, depression and memory lapses. Food sources of vitamin B12 include liver, turkey giblets, oysters, clams, king crab and whole milk.

Folate is a B vitamin that plays an essential role in the necessary functions of the human body, including nervous system function, red blood cell formation, and hormone function. Previous studies have found a potential link between folate and reductions in the risk of stroke, hearing loss and birth defects. Our bodies do not naturally synthesize B vitamins. However, it is easy to increase your intake by eating more folate- rich foods. Some foods rich in folate include liver, eggs, beans, sunflower seeds, asparagus, leafy green vegetables, oranges, strawberries, cantaloupes, and other melons. 

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