Vitamin B12 may protect the brain from dementia

Vitamin B12 may protect the brain from dementia

Size matters. Especially when it comes to your brain volume.

Memory is stored in the hippocampus – the primary area of the brain that deteriorates in Alzheimer’s patients.

In the e-Alert “Muscle Head” (8/12/08), I told you about a study in which older subjects who were physically fit were found to have greater volume of the hippocampus compared to subjects with poor fitness levels.

Now a new study from the University of Oxford shows that vitamin B12 might also play a role in maintaining brain volume.

Researchers recruited more than 100 healthy subjects over the age of 60. B12 levels were checked with blood tests, and brain volume changes were tracked with one MRI per year for five years. Results showed that subjects with the highest B12 levels were six times more likely to avoid brain volume reduction compared to subjects with the lowest levels of the vitamin.

This study didn’t measure dementia levels, but a 2007 study (also from the University of Oxford) showed that risk of cognitive decline and dementia might be lowered by as much as 30 percent by increasing B12 levels.

B12 is most abundant in meat, fish, and eggs.

In previous e-Alerts, HSI Panelist Allan Spreen, M.D., has recommended 1,000 micrograms of B12 daily, taken in sublingual form (dissolved under the tongue).

Dr. Spreen also notes that there are three types of B12: methylcobalamin, cyanocobalamin, and hydroxocobalamin. He says, “Methylcobalamin is by far the best (and, unfortunately, the most expensive). I only use the cyano-type when the methyl-type is unavailable (which is often).”

“Vitamin B12 May Protect Against Brain Shrinkage” Stephen Daniells, NutraIngredients-USA, 9/9/08,