Brain atrophy: © University of Alabama, Department of Pathology via ucsf.edu
Thankfully, medical researchers are not only studying synthetic drugs, but the efficacy of vitamins in disease intervention and protection. Yesterday's medical news was that vitamin D may be more effective than a flu shot in preventing both seasonal and swine flus. But this week, another study was published about particular health effects of vitamin B.
It was an Oxford University study that looked at the effects of vitamin B supplements on brain atrophy among older persons with mild cognitive impairment (MCI). Sixteen percent of adults over 70 have MCI and half of those develop Alzheimer's disease.
The rationale for a vitamin B study comes from the fact that people who experience cognitive decline tend to have high levels of homocysteine in their blood and vitamin B can lower levels of homocysteine.
In a randomized, double-blind controlled experiment, 187 persons over 70 years of age were diagnosed with MCI. Brain atrophy was observed by MRI scans at the beginning and end of the 24 month study. Eighty-five participants were given high-dose folic acid and vitamins B6 and B12 were administered daily to 85 persons over the age of 70 with MCI. Eighty-three participants in the control group received a placebo.
At the end of the 24 month period, researchers measured brain atrophy of all participants via various MRI scans and compared them to the original scans. Additionally, homocystene levels were measured and cognitive tests administered.
Results showed that among all participants the rate of brain atrophy per year was .76% in the active treatment group versus 1.08 percent average decline per year in the placebo group. Among those with levels of homocysteine over 13 µmol/L at the start of the study, homosysteine levels after 24 months in the active treatment group were 53% lower than in the control group. Greater brain atrophy coincided with lower cognitive test scores.
The Oxford researchers conclude that the administration of homocysteine-lowering B vitamins can slow down the rate of brain atrophy among those over 70 with MCI. They suggest that further studies are needed to see if the same active treatment will delay the development of Alzheimer's disease.
source: Plosone.org via Medical News Today