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High doses of vitamin B could put off Alzheimer's

9th September 2010

High doses of B vitamins could help offset the impact of Alzheimer’s disease.

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A new study has suggested that the vitamin could halve the rate of brain shrinkage in older people experiencing some of the warning signs of Alzheimer’s.

The research looked at 168 elderly people experiencing levels of mental decline known as mild cognitive impairment with 50% of the volunteers given a tablet each day containing the B vitamins folate, B6 and B12 well above the recommended daily amount with the rest of the group given a placebo.

After two years it was found those brain shrinkage was measured and those taking the vitamins were found to have their brain shrinkage slowed by 30%.

The work from the Oxford Project to investigate Memory and Ageing (Optima) and co-funded by the Alzheimer’s Research Trust is published in the journal Public Library of Science One.

Study author Professor David Smith said the results were more significant than he had expected and added: “These vitamins are doing something to the brain structure - they're protecting it, and that's very important because we need to protect the brain to prevent Alzheimer's.”

Alzheimer's Research Trust chief executive Rebecca Wood said: “These are very important results, with B vitamins now showing a prospect of protecting some people from Alzheimer's in old age. The strong findings must inspire an expanded trial to follow people expected to develop Alzheimer's.”

However, some experts have urged caution, warning that there are separate risks with taking vitamin B in too high doses.

 

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