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B Vitamins Help Lower Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease

October 20, 2010

(Article first published as Can B Vitamins Help to Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease? on Technorati.)

Alzheimer’s disease robs a person of their memories, thoughts and individuality. When surveyed, people indicate that of all diseases, this form of dementia is the most dreaded and misunderstood. Medical science can offer little more than palliative care and ineffective pharmaceuticals to those suffering from Alzheimer’s as the number of people afflicted continues to grow at an alarming rate. While there is no known cure for Alzheimer’s disease once it has begun its progression toward darkness, new research is beginning to shine a light on a super nutrient that could help compliment a healthy lifestyle toward prevention.

High Homocysteine Linked to Alzheimer’s Disease

Homocysteine is a naturally occurring amino acid commonly seen in excess due to a diet high in meat and protein sources. High blood levels are known to be a risk factor for heart disease as the amino acid damages the delicate inner lining of the coronary arteries. Research published in the New England Journal of Medicine demonstrated that elevated homocysteine levels double the risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) and B12 dramatically lower levels of homocysteine in the blood as they help to convert excess amounts of the amino acid for excretion.

Vitamin B12 Deficiency Linked with Alzheimer’s Disease
Evidence is mounting to suggest that a vitamin B12 deficiency may be connected to increased risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease. The results of a study released in the journal Neurology studied the level of homocysteine and vitamin B12 in elderly subjects. They found that for every single unit increase in the blood level of homocysteine, the risk of Alzheimer’s disease jumped by 16%. Similarly, risk decreased by 2% for each unit increase in blood concentration of Vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 is known to become dangerously low with age, and represents a significant factor in the development of Alzheimer’s disease that requires more research.
Brain Shrinkage Cut in Half with B Vitamins

The normal shrinking of the brain with age has been viewed as normal, but scientists have been able to show that shrinkage can be halted and reduced with high doses of B vitamins. While smaller brain size is not directly linked with dementia, it does represent a major risk factor for progression to Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers at Oxford University supplemented test participants with full spectrum B vitamins for a period of 2 years and found that they were able to reduce brain shrinkage in half as compared to a group receiving a placebo. The study authors conclude, “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.”

Lowering the Risk of Developing Alzheimer’s Disease with Diet
More than enough evidence is mounting to show that poor diet and lack of B vitamins represent independent risk factors for developing Alzheimer’s disease that are within our control. Additional research has pointed to abnormal glycation of proteins and fats as a trigger for the deadly disease. Some have even gone so far as to call the condition Type III diabetes as high blood sugar and insulin resistance wreak damage on the electrical signaling circuits of the brain. You can lower your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by eating a diet low in animal protein to restrict production of homocysteine. Eliminate sugar and refined carbohydrates that raise blood sugar and lead to insulin dysfunction.
From the research presented, it’s clear that supplementing with B vitamins in excess of the recommended daily allowance is essential. While the entire family of B vitamins can promote brain health, most studies concentrate on B6 and B12 taken in quantities that are 300 to 500% higher than the RDA values. Lower your risks of Alzheimer’s by taking the necessary dietary and supplemental steps and avoid joining the growing ranks that continue to spiral out of control.
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