(Natural News) A lot of people, especially those who are young, make the mistake of taking Alzheimer’s disease for granted – that, despite it being the most common cause of dementia and the likelihood of getting the condition increases with age. Fortunately, research has revealed that B complex vitamins can significantly reduce the risk of brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s by preserving brain volume and even reversing mild cognitive decline – a symptom usually seen during the early stages of the disease.
In a study in the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, researchers have established that vitamin B supplementation – in particular, vitamins B6, B9, and B12 – significantly improved the cognition and memory function of older adults that exhibited mild cognitive impairment. The authors of the study attributed it to the ability of B vitamins to reduce levels of homocysteine, an amino acid used to be a biological marker for Alzheimer’s disease. (Related: How vitamin B-12 treats Alzheimer’s disease.)
It has a more sinister role in the body – many scientists believe that homocysteine is a pro-inflammatory substance that causes brain damage and increases the likelihood that a person will be affected by the condition. Multiple studies have shown that patients with mild cognitive impairment, a typical precursor to Alzheimer’s, have elevated levels of homocysteine in their system. It’s also responsible for problems with brain circulation since it increases oxidative stress and damages the blood-brain barriers. However, its worst (and potentially most lethal) side effect is the buildup of beta-amyloid protein in the brain – a landmark symptom for Alzheimer’s disease.
Researchers found that people with elevated levels of homocysteine benefit the most from vitamin B supplementation, as it greatly improved their brain function. It also appeared to greatly reduce the progression of a person’s cognitive and clinical decline, especially if those who have mild cognitive impairment.
The findings suggested that supplementing with B complex vitamins could be used to manage symptoms of mild cognitive decline, thereby minimizing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
In another study, this time published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry, researchers have concluded that vitamin B3, also called niacin, could be used to resist the effects of neurodegeneration. In particular, they found that people with the highest levels of niacin were the least likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease and had slower rates of cognitive decline.
Getting your fix of vitamin B
The body heavily relies on B vitamins for a lot of its functions – including boosting brain health. Fortunately, there are many food items that are excellent sources of these vitamins.
- Thiamin (vitamin B1), which regulates the appetite and supports metabolic function, is found in dark green leafy vegetables, whole grains, lentils, and certain nuts.
- Riboflavin (vitamin B2), found in dark green leafy vegetables and chicken, helps maintain healthy skin.
- Niacin (vitamin B3), aside from boosting brain health, also helps with healthy nerve function and can be found in legumes, peanuts, and whole wheat.
- Folate (vitamin B9), an essential vitamin for pregnant women, is found in leafy greens such as cabbage and fruits.
- Vitamin B6, which helps in the production of red blood cells, can be found in poultry, seafood, potatoes, and leafy vegetables.
- Vitamin B12 is only found in animal sources – in particular, seafood – and helps boost brain function.
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