Photo of a vitamin B12 sign.
Vitamin B12 may help delay Alzheimer's disease CC by ethorson/Flickr

BBC News Health indicates that increased levels of vitamin B12 in the body may help stave off the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. A seven-year study of 271 Finnish subjects ranging in age from 65 to 79 found the possible connect of B12 deficiency and increased chances of dementia, says the journal Neurology. The ages of the study group correspond to ages of those at greatest risk for developing dementia. Mental tests and health screenings proved that none of the participants had dementia at the start of the study. At this stage, most experts are hesitant to advocate vitamin B12 supplements as any kind of “miracle cure” for Alzheimer’s disease.

You can get the B12-homocysteine vitamin too

Milk and fortified cereals contain the B12 vitamin. It is also found in meat, fish and eggs. B vitamins and the body chemical homocysteine have been linked to Alzheimer’s for some time by scientists. Presence of homocysteine is believed to raise the risk of strokes and dementia. Levels of homocysteine can be lowered by getting more vitamin B12 into the blood. This means brain shrinkage, which is linked to Alzheimer’s disease, will be slowed

Alzheimer’s developed in some before end of the study

Of the 271 study respondents, 17 were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease after seven years. Levels of homocysteine were much higher when there was a deficiency of B12 vitamins. There was much better mental health among those who had more B12 vitamins. BBC spoke with professor Helga Refsum of the University of Oslo. She said that although the Alzheimer’s sample was “relatively small, (this study) should act as another incentive to start a large scale trial with homocysteine-lowering therapy using B vitamins.”

Use a bit of STEP

The public got some advice for how to avoid Alzheimer’s from Alzheimer’s Research Trust CEO Rebecca Wood. She says the best things to do are have a balanced diet, exercise and keep your blood pressure and cholesterol low. Vitamin B12 may be proven effective through future trials, however. Mice are given Alzheimer’s through a protein called “STEP.” Scientists are going to do human trials to see if they can lower this protein. There aren’t any data on the reactions of humans yet.

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