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Boomers take note: Vitamin B12 Protects the Aging Brain

Posted Sep 11 2008 2:12am
Vitamin B12 may protect against brain volume loss in older people, according to a study published in the September 9, 2008, issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

For the study, 107 people between the ages of 61 and 87 underwent brain scans, memory testing and physical exams. Researchers also collected blood samples to check vitamin B12 levels. Brain scans and memory tests were also performed again five years later.

The study found that people who had higher vitamin B12 levels were six times less likely to experience brain shrinkage compared with those who had lower levels of the vitamin in their blood.

What's really interesting here is that none of the people in the study technically had vitamin B12 deficiency. (This parallels recent findings showing all the problems associated with less than optimal levels of vitamin D, even when people aren't classified as technically "deficient".)

"Many factors that affect brain health are thought to be out of our control, but this study suggests that simply adjusting our diets to consume more vitamin B12 through eating meat, fish, fortified cereals or milk may be something we can easily adjust to prevent brain shrinkage and so perhaps save our memory," said study author Anna Vogiatzoglou, MSc, with the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom.

"Research shows that vitamin B12 deficiency is a public health problem, especially among the elderly, so more vitamin B12 intake could help reverse this problem", she added.

This study didn't investigate whether taking vitamin B12 supplements could reverse the problem, but it sure makes sense.

I wrote about the connection between B12 and brain function in "The Most Effective Natural Cures on Earth". Interestingly, it's not just the elderly who are at great risk for not getting enough of this important vitamin. Despite arguments to the contrary, so are vegans and vegetarians.

B12 is essential for proper functioning of the brain. It's necessary for proper nerve conduction- when you have less of it, nerve impulses or "messages" are less effective at getting to their destinations.

B12 is also critical (along with folic acid and vitamin B6) to bringing down levels of a toxic compound in the blood called homocysteine, high levels of which increase the risk of stroke, heart disease and Alzheimers.

I've seen many people whose mood and energy has substantially improved once they started getting more B12 in their diet.
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