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Alzheimer's Disease|Progression|Homocysteine Levels and Vitamin B

Updated on December 18, 2013
Alois Alzheimer
Alois Alzheimer
By National Institute on Aging [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
By National Institute on Aging [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons | Source

What is Alzheimer’s disease?


Alzheimer’s disease is a cruel degenerative disease which robs sufferers of their mental faculties. Starting out by forgetting words and lapses of memory, the disease gradually gets worse until the sufferer regresses almost to babyhood. See another of my articles http://hub.me/af2Ph which explains the condition in depth.

What is the Vitamin B connection?

Research has been carried out at Oxford University on patients from the Oxford area recently which shows that taking vitamins in the B group can slow down the degeneration of the brains of patients affected by Alzheimer’s disease by seven times. The B vitamins are as follows:

  • B12 - Contained in Milk, cottage cheese, meat, oysters, turkey, eggs, liver, shellfish, tuna and sardines.
  • Folic Acid - Found in Liver, broccoli, avocado, grains, spinach, strawberries, cabbage, beans and cauliflower.
  • B6 – Present in Onions, potatoes, bananas, chicken, broccoli, other green leafy vegetables, lentils, prunes, peppers, nuts, seeds and watermelon.

By Alex Proimos from Sydney, Australia (Colours of Health  Uploaded by russavia) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Alex Proimos from Sydney, Australia (Colours of Health Uploaded by russavia) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons | Source

What are some signs of deficiency in B vitamins?


  • B12 deficiency – Weakness, muscle aches and spasms, pernicious anaemia, hyperhomocysteinemia, anxiety, numbness of extremities, weakness, tension, stomach problems, skin lesions and hyperpigmentation.
  • Folic Acid deficiency – Anaemia, tiredness, fainting, headache, pallor tinnitus and palpitations
  • B6 deficiency – Seborrhoeic dermatitis, conjunctivitis, sore tongue, splits at the corner of the mouth (angular cheilitis), neuropathy and intertrigo

Why are B Vitamins so helpful in Alzheimer’s patients?


The reason some B vitamins are so helpful is because they lower the level of an amino acid called Homocysteine and it is high levels of this which cause Alzheimer’s disease as well as heart disease and strokes. Generally as people age their diets and nutrition become less healthy and they take in fewer vitamins so it makes sense to supplement with vitamin pills. Consuming B Vitamins has been found to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

Homocysteine By Ben Mills and Jynto [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Homocysteine By Ben Mills and Jynto [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons | Source

What is Homocysteine?


Homocysteine is an amino acid which is produced in the body as a by product of methionine. If there is not enough consumption of B12, B6 and Folate the levels of Homocysteine rise too high.

By Luis Miguel Bugallo Sánchez (Lmbuga) (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Luis Miguel Bugallo Sánchez (Lmbuga) (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons | Source
Diabetes - Insulin Pen  Picture taken by PerPlex. Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License
Diabetes - Insulin Pen Picture taken by PerPlex. Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License | Source

Is there anything else which pre-disposes a person to having high homocysteine?


Yes there are a number of factors:

  • Genetics
  • Obesity
  • Family history of stroke or heart disease
  • Hypertension
  • Diabetes

What is the effect of high levels of Homocysteine?


Elevated levels of the amino acid can cause the following conditions:

  • Deep Vein Thrombosis
  • Stroke
  • Coronary Artery disease
  • Cognitive dysfunction
  • Osteoporosis
  • Alzheimer’s disease

Are there tests to determine Homocysteine levels?


There are blood tests available but although cholesterol is regularly tested by medical professionals; it is rare for homocysteine levels to be tested. There are some home testing kits for homocysteine which cost around £95.00 in the UK. They are obtainable from: http://www.amazinghealth.co.uk in the UK http://www.healthcheckusa.com priced currently at $80.

What is the effect on Alzheimer’s patients of high homocysteine levels?


In Welsh trials it was found that healthy people with high levels of the amino acid suffer more cognitive decline over a five year period than those with normal levels. Patients’ already suffering from Alzheimer’s had high levels of homocysteine.

A positive side effect from taking B vitamins to lower the level of homocysteine in the blood is a lessening of the risk factors for heart disease, stroke and DVT as well as slowing the mental decline of patients with Alzheimer’s.

Source

Would you take B Vitamins to try to prevent the onset of Alzheimer's disease?

See results

© Susan Bailey 2013 All Rights Reserved

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    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 

      17 months ago from Idyllwild Ca.

      My younger sister is suffering with this debilitating disease. I watch her declining day by day and it breaks my heart. I will make sure I'm getting enough B's with my food (don't eat meat or chicken) and with my supplements.

      Very interesting hub and very glad you created it. Thanks Susan

    • Abby Campbell profile image

      Dr Abby Campbell 

      5 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

      Oh, I'm sorry to hear about your underactive thyroid, Sue. I also had hypothyroidism for six years. It can wreak havoc on the body, but I'm a big believer that good nutrition can heal almost anything. Though it takes time and patience. B-complex and especially B12 have so many wonderful benefits for the body, not just for Alzheimers so hopefully you'll be feeling back to normal real soon. ;)

    • Sue Bailey profile imageAUTHOR

      Susan Bailey 

      5 years ago from South Yorkshire, UK

      I know what you mean Abby. I have an underactive thyroid gland and I don't think I absorb vitamin B very well well from food. Around December I began to feel very ill indeed, memory problems, aches and pains, overwhelming fatigue; the list was endless. To cut a long story short, since taking sub-lingual Vitamin B complex with an added boost of vit B12. I feel so much better. Vitamin B deficiency has a devastating effect on a great deal of the body and mind so it makes sense to me when I learned of the Alzheimer's connection.

    • Abby Campbell profile image

      Dr Abby Campbell 

      5 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

      Thank you for this interesting post, Sue. I often read about how good fish oil is for Alzheimers, but rarely do I hear about B vitamins being of benefit. This is great to know. I use to take it religiously but have stopped for some time now. I am going to begin taking it again. After all, my children ask me all the time if I have Alzheimers. Though I know they are joking, I also know that my memory isn't as great as it use to be... even with all the great nutrition. :-)

    • Sue Bailey profile imageAUTHOR

      Susan Bailey 

      5 years ago from South Yorkshire, UK

      Thanks Alicia. It sounds promising so let's hope more research is done into this.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank you for sharing the very interesting information, Sue. A substance that can slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease or help prevent its development would be wonderful! It's such a horrible illness.

    • Sue Bailey profile imageAUTHOR

      Susan Bailey 

      5 years ago from South Yorkshire, UK

      Thank you for the up vote mperrottet. Appreciated

    • mperrottet profile image

      Margaret Perrottet 

      5 years ago from San Antonio, FL

      I've read these studies on vitamin B as well, and they seem pretty compelling. Good article - voted up, interesting and useful.

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