The Incredible Shrinking Brain
Ever feel like you’re working with less brain power than you used to have?
Unfortunately, that’s absolutely true. For most of us, anyway.
Typically, we start losing brain mass in early adulthood. And–wouldn’t you know it?–much of that mass is lost in areas of the brain that support memory.
What’s worse, shrinkage can be pushed along by several factors, including obesity, chronic stress, chronic back pain, depression, and heavy alcohol consumption.
Of course, this shrinkage sometimes causes cognitive impairment. But new evidence shows that a few of the right supplements at the right time can help slow your rate of shrinkage AND impairment.
For years I’ve been telling you about studies that observed a link between dementia and high blood levels of the amino acid homocysteine. And researchers have known for some time that certain B vitamins help metabolize and lower homocysteine levels.
Many of these studies also suggested that a good intake of B vitamins was not only linked to lower homocysteine, but also to a reduced risk of dementia. Other studies linked low B levels with high homocysteine and higher dementia risk.
In study after study, this probable cause and effect was clear. But there was no evidence.
Now we have evidence.
University of Oxford researchers divided more than 270 elderly patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) into two groups. For two years, one group took placebos while the other group took daily supplements of folic acid (0.8 mg), vitamin B-12 (0.5 mg), and vitamin B-6 (20 mg).
Nearly 170 subjects agreed to have cranial MRI scans at the beginning and end of the study. This allowed the Oxford team to track brain atrophy. As they note in their study, accelerated brain atrophy is common in patients with MCI who later develop Alzheimer’s.
Results: Brain atrophy progression was significantly slower in the B supplement group. Subjects with a greater rate of atrophy also had lower cognitive test scores than supplement subjects.
This is very exciting news for anyone experiencing MCI. You now have clinical evidence that taking additional B vitamins will help you keep your cognitive health intact.
But taking extra B supplements is just a start.
Other research shows that daily exercise combined with several key supplements will help prevent brain atrophy and delay the onset of Alzheimer’s. You can read about these other brain-friendly supplements in the e-Alert “Energizer Brain.”
To Your Good Health,
“Homocysteine-Lowering by B Vitamins Slows the Rate of Accelerated Brain Atrophy in Mild Cognitive Impairment: A Randomized Controlled Trial” PLoS ONE, Vol. 5, No. 9, 9/8/10, plosone.org