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B Vitamins May Improve Cognitive Function in People with Mild Cognitive Impairment

Mild cognitive impairment is often the first step toward developing dementia and, left unaddressed, it can transform into Alzheimer ’s disease. A recent study suggests that taking a supplement containing the vitamins B6, B12, and folic acid may help improve cognitive function in people with mild cognitive impairment.

Participants in the study included 48 people over the age of 65 who were living in care facilities and had mild cognitive impairment. Over the course of 12 weeks they were given either an undisclosed amount of the vitamin B supplement or a placebo.

At the conclusion of the study, the researchers noted significantly higher scores on the Mini Mental State Examination-Korean test in the supplement group when compared with the placebo. They also noted improvements in the Geriatric Depression Scale Short Form Korea Version.

The supplement group also had significant improvements in serum homocysteine levels, when compared with the placebo. Previous studies have found that serum homocysteine levels above 14 micromoles per liter are associated with twice the risk of dementia.

Researchers from Suwon Women’s University in GyunGi-do and Kyung Hee University in Seoul conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on February 15, 2016, in the Journal of Nursing Scholarship.

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. Previous studies have found a link between vitamin B6 and reductions in the risk of stroke, birth defects and hearing loss. B6 also plays an important role in many essential functions in the human body ranging from nervous system function to red blood cell formation.

Folic acid is the synthetic form of folate, a water-soluble B vitamin. Folate plays an essential role in many of the necessary functions of the human body. It has been associated with nervous system function, red blood cell formation, and hormone function. Previous studies have also found a potential link between this vitamin and reductions in hearing loss and birth defects.

Our bodies do not naturally synthesize B vitamins. However, it is easy to increase your intake by eating more vitamin B- rich foods, such as liver, eggs, beans, sunflower seeds, asparagus, leafy green vegetables, oranges, strawberries, cantaloupes, and other melons. Additionally, food sources of vitamin B12 include liver, turkey giblets, oysters, clams, king crab and whole milk. If your diet is not rich in these products, you should consider supplementing with a high quality multivitamin or vitamin B supplement.

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