(NaturalNews) Mega-doses of B vitamins may significantly slow brain shrinkage and slow the progression of dementia, according to a study conducted by researchers from Oxford University and published in the journal PLoS One.
"This is a very dramatic and striking result," lead researcher David Smith said. "It's much more than we could have predicted."
"It is our hope that this simple and safe treatment will delay development of Alzheimer's in many people who suffer from mild memory problems."
Researchers assigned 168 people suffering from mild cognitive impairment to take either a placebo or a pill containing 15 times the recommended daily dose of vitamin B6, four times the recommended dose of B9 and 300 times the recommended dose of B12. These vitamins are known to lower levels of the amino acid homocysteine, which has been linked to Alzheimer's disease.
Approximately 50 percent of people who suffer from mild cognitive impairment eventually develop a more severe form of dementia.
On average, the brains of patients taking the vitamins shrank at half the rate of those taking a placebo. The benefit was most pronounced in patients whose homocysteine levels were high at the start of the study.
An estimated 35 million people around the world suffer from dementia, including 26.6 million with Alzheimer's disease. In the United States, Alzheimer's rates are estimated at 1.2 percent of the general population, climbing to as high as 42 percent of those older than 84.
"Clearly, in the Western World, dementia is not a rare problem," write doctors Abram Hoffer and Harold D. Foster in Feel Better, Live Longer with Vitamin B-3.
"Indeed, R. Katzman and colleagues have argued that in people more than 75 years of age, new cases of dementia occur as frequently as myocardial infarction and twice as often as stroke."
The authors note that Hoffman has been prescribing vitamin B3 to patients who show preliminary signs of age-related cognitive impairment since 1955.