Researchers explored the prevention of brain atrophy in areas related to cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease (AD) by lowering elevated plasma homocysteine using B vitamins. An earlier study on people with increased dementia risk had indicated that high-dose B-vitamin treatment slows shrinkage of the whole brain volume over 2 years. In this article the authors attempt to demonstrate that B-vitamin treatment reduces cerebral atrophy in the grey matter (GM) regions specifically vulnerable to Alzheimer’s Disease neurodegeneration, such as the medial temporal lobe. It was found that B vitamins lower homocysteine, which leads to a decrease in GM atrophy, slowing cognitive decline, and that B-vitamin supplementation has the potential to slow atrophy in brain regions related to Alzheimer’s Disease and associated with cognitive decline.
Further B-vitamin supplementation trials on elderly persons with high homocysteine levels are advised, to test whether progression to dementia can be reduced.
Note: The NHS Choices critical appraisal of this research reminds us that it is not yet proven whether vitamin B can prevent Alzheimer’s dementia or cognitive decline. More research is required to investigate the potential for vitamin B for slowing the dementia progression.
Caution: High doses of vitamin B may be harmful and could increase the risk of cancer. Individuals should consult a doctor before considering taking vitamin B supplements above the recommended daily allowance (RDA).
Claims vitamin B prevents Alzheimer’s are unproven. London: NHS Choices, May 21st 2013.
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Douaud, G. Refsum, H. [and] de Jager, CA. [et al] (2013). Preventing Alzheimer’s disease-related gray matter atrophy by B-vitamin treatment. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, May 20th 2013, [Epub ahead of print]. (Click here to view the PubMed abstract).
[A brief reference to this item features in Dementia and Elderly Care: the Latest Evidence Newsletter (RWNHST), Volume 3 Issue 9, August 2013].