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Vitamin B Levels Linked to Cognitive Function

A recent study suggests that low levels of vitamin B6 and vitamin B12 are linked to an increased risk of cognitive function. Low levels of B12 were also found to be associated with an increased risk of depression.

The researchers did note, however, that this study shows correlation, not causation, meaning it does not show that increasing B6 and B12 levels would reduce these risks.

Two study populations were analyzed: The Boston Puerto Rican Health Study and the Nutrition, Aging, and Memory in Elders study. Food frequency questionnaires were administered to determine diet and health factors. To determine cognitive functioning, the Mini-Mental Status Exam was conducted and the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale was employed for depression.

The researchers noted that low B6 and B12 levels were correlated with lower cognitive functioning scores. Additionally, low B12 levels were linked with higher depressions scores.

The researchers were based at Oxford University and their results were published in the August 2012 issue of the journal Nutritional Epidemiology.

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 vitamins 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, including broccoli, asparagus, potatoes, tuna, liver, oysters, clams, king crab and salmon. Many flour products are also fortified with B vitamins. If your diet is not rich in these products, you could consider supplementing with a high quality multivitamin or vitamin B12 supplement.

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