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Vitamin B May Slow Cognitive Decline

Some cognitive decline is natural for humans as we age, but if it advances it can lead to Alzheimer’s. A recent study from the University of Oxford suggests that vitamin B may slow down the advance of mild cognitive impairment (MCI).

The findings were published in the July, 2011 edition of the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.

The study included 266 adults over the age of 70 with MCI. Over the course of 2 years, half of the group received 0.8 mg of folic acid, 0.5 mg of vitamin B12, and 20 mg of vitamin B6 daily and half received a placebo.

After the 2 year supplementation period, the researchers measured the homocysteine levels of all the participants. Homocysteine is a risk factor in the onset of Alzheimer's disease.

The participants taking the supplements showed 30% lower homocysteine levels than those taking the placebo. The supplement group also showed better global cognition, episodic memory, and semantic memory than the placebo group.

The researchers plan to conduct further studies to determine if vitamin B supplementation can slow or prevent the conversion from MCI to Alzheimer’s.

B vitamins have been linked to numerous health benefits, including reducing breast cancer risk, nervous system function, red blood cell formation, and hormone function. Studies have also suggested that B vitamin may reduce 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 of these essential vitamins by eating more vitamin B rich foods. Some foods rich in B vitamins include broccoli, asparagus, potatoes, tuna and salmon. Many milk and flour products are also fortified with B vitamins.

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