A major University of Oxford study has shown that daily tablets of B vitamins can halve the rate of brain atrophy in older people with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI).
The two year randomised double-blind clinical trial is the largest to study the effect of B vitamins on MCI and one of the first disease-modifying trials in the Alzheimer's field to show positive results in people, according to the study.
Vitamin B is found in a variety of sources, such as bananas, meat, beans and whole grains.
The Alzheimer's Society have issued the following comment:
This is an interesting study which could change the lives of thousands of people at risk of dementia. However, previous studies looking at B vitamins have been very disappointing and we wouldn't want to raise people's expectations yet, as we have not specifically seen any benefits in preventing the onset of the symptoms of dementia. This current study from Oxford University measured the rate of shrinkage of the brain and demonstrates the benefit to those starting with high levels of the amino acid homocysteine - a known risk factor for Alzheimer's Disease. The study doesn't necessarily show the benefits to people with normal homocysteine levels.
More research is therefore necessary to show how B vitamin therapy may prevent or delay dementia, particularly in these selected groups of people with higher levels of homocysteine and for those individually at risk of developing Alzheimer's.
However, we know that the best way to reduce your risk of dementia is to ensure that you eat a healthy and balanced diet containing fruit and vegetables.
Professor Clive Ballard
Director of Research
Reference: Homocysteine-lowering by B vitamins slows the rate of accelerated brain atrophy in mild cognitive impairment. A randomized controlled trialby A. David Smith et al was published on 8 September in PLoS ONE. You can read about it here.
Source: Alzheimer's Society