A new study shows that vitamins B could end the onset of Alzheimer’s by preventing shrinkage of the medial temporal lobe.
Alzheimer’s disease is currently at epidemic proportions, with 5.4 million Americans — including one in eight people aged 65 and over — living with Alzheimer’s disease. By 2050, this is expected to jump to 16 million, and in the next 20 years, it is projected that Alzheimer’s will affect one in four Americans.
While the cause of this condition is believed to be a mystery, it’s becoming increasingly clear that what you eat, or don’t eat, can influence your risk as well as the rate at which the disease progresses. Vitamins B, in particular, especially folic acid and vitamins B6 and B12, are again making headlines for their powerful role in preventing Alzheimer’s disease.
The research showed that people in the trial who got the B vitamins were almost entirely protected from the brain shrinkage suffered by those who only got a placebo pill.
A rapidly shrinking brain is one of the signs of a raised risk for Alzheimer’s. Those taking the B vitamins had 90 per cent less shrinkage in their brains.
High levels of the amino acid homocysteine are linked to brain shrinkage and an increased risk of Alzheimer’s. Vitamins B are known to suppress homocysteine.
We all lose brain cells as we get older, normally about half a per cent a year. If you have mild cognitive impairment that rises to 1 per cent and when Alzheimer’s sets in, the atrophy speeds up to 2½ per cent.
The latest study shows not only that Vitamins B may slow brain shrinkage but that it may specifically slow shrinkage by as much as seven-fold in brain regions specifically known to be most impacted by Alzheimer’s disease.
A new statistical analysis established that slowing the rate of brain atrophy was directly responsible for slowing the rate at which the memory deteriorates.
Among participants taking high doses of folic acid and vitamins B6 and B12, blood levels of homocysteine were lowered as was the associated brain shrinkage – by up to 90 percent.
Older people are particularly likely to be deficient in these nutrients. That’s because, as we age, our bodies become less good at getting it from food, and certain widely-used drugs, such as proton pump inhibitors for acid reflux, make the extraction process even more difficult.
There have been lots of studies showing that Alzheimer’s patients have unusually high levels of homocysteine in their bloodstream. They also have low levels of acetylcholine (in fact, the most common Alzheimer’s drug works by boosting acetylcholine).
So the thinking is, boost B vitamins and you boost the conversion of homocysteine into acetylcholine. Another theory is that high levels of homocysteine may actually trigger brain shrinkage.
And the research showed the areas of the brain that were protected from damage are almost exactly the same Alzheimer’s typically destroys. This ‘Alzheimer’s footprint’ includes areas that control how we learn, remember and organize our thoughts, precisely those that gradually atrophy as the ghastly disease progresses.
Foods Rich in Vitamin B12 Also Shown to Lower Alzheimer’s Risk
According to a small Finnish study published in the journal Neurology, people who consume foods rich in B12 may reduce their risk of Alzheimer’s in their later years. For each unit increase in the marker of vitamin B12, the risk of developing Alzheimer’s was reduced by 2 percent.
This makes a strong case for ensuring your diet includes plenty of healthful B-vitamin sources, such as meat, poultry, eggs, dairy products and wild-caught fish. Leafy green vegetables, beans and peas also provide some B vitamins, but if you eat an all vegetarian or vegan diet, vitamin B12 is one of the nutrients your body is most likely deficient in, as it is naturally present in foods that come from animals, including meat, fish, eggs, milk and milk products.
This is also a strong argument to use fermented foods and limit sugar intake. Consider that the entire Vitamins B series is produced continually within your gut, assuming it is continually replenished and reseeded with healthy flora from organically grown raw foods, particularly the flora-dense cultured traditional fermented foods.