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Vitamin B May Help Reduce Risk of Dementia

Updated on April 8, 2012

High plasma homocysteine levels is associated with double the risk of Alzheimer's disease[3]. Vitamin B12, folic acid (which is B9), and pyridoxine (which is B6) all helps lower the level of homocysteine levels. So can the risk of Alzheimer's disease be reduced by taking vitamin B's to lower homocysteine levels? The answer is that it may for certain individuals.

Of course there are many other causes of dementia beside high homocysteine levels. And people with normal levels of homocysteine may not benefit as much from taking B vitamins as those who have high homocysteine levels. Plus individuals are different. What works for one person may not work for another. That is why some studies get mixed results.

High Homocysteine Increase Risk of Alzheimer's

Homocysteine is an amino acid produced by the human body. Its level in the blood can be measured via a blood test. High homocysteine levels damages the linings of the arteries. So it increases the risk of coronary artery disease as well as Alzheimer's disease.

It is important to know which came first. Is it high homocysteine first and then Alzheimer's. Or Alzheimer's disease that caused high homocysteine levels. A study in the New England Journal of Medicine says that it is the former ...

"The prospective nature of this study and the strong association between newly diagnosed dementia and Alzheimer's disease and plasma homocysteine levels measured eight years before base line suggest that the elevation in the homocysteine level preceded the onset of dementia."

But how would high homocysteine cause dementia? High homocysteine is associated with atherosclerosis which increase risk of stroke, which in turn increases risk of Alzheimer's.

Other study says that high homocysteine levels are neuro-toxic and can kill brain cells. It says in more scientific terms ...

"Human studies suggest that homocysteine (Hcy) plays a role in brain damage, cognitive and memory decline. ... Hcy itself or folate and vitamin B12 deficiency can cause disturbed methylation and/or redox potentials, thus promoting calcium influx, amyloid and tau protein accumulation, apoptosis, and neuronal death."

But the good news is that ...

"Numerous neurotoxic effects of Hcy can be blocked by folate, glutamate receptor antagonists, or various antioxidants."

B Vitamin Lowers Alzheimer's Risk

That means that folate can help prevent the harmful effects of high homocysteine. Folate is the natural form of vitamin B9 that is found in foods. Folic acid is synthetic form of folate that is found in supplements.

Not only is folate helpful, but B12 and B6 vitamin are beneficial too. B vitamin is associated with lower rates of brain shrinkage. [reference] That is because high homocysteine is suspected for causing brain atrophy.

Page 17 of the book UltraPrevention acknowledges that ...

"homocysteine can be easily lowered using the correct dose of B vitamins such as folic acid, B6, and B12."

and that high homocysteine levels are linked to Alzheimer's disease [page 23].

Others such as WebMD reports that "vitamin B12 may help protect brain against Alzheimer's disease."

CNN says ...

"People who consume lots of foods rich in vitamin B12 -- such as fish and fortified cereals -- may be at lower risk of developing Alzheimer's disease"

B vitamins and Methylation

How is it that these vitamin B's help reduce homocysteine? Folate and vitamin B12 along with other molecules help the body convert homocysteine into beneficial SAMe.

Vitamin B6 along with other components help convert homocysteine into a powerful antioxidant and detoxifier gluthathione in what is known as the methylation pathway as explained by Dr. Kartzinel.

Your body needs vitamin B6, B12, and folate for energy. This is because B vitamins among other elements are needed in order to make coenzyme-Q10 which supports the cell's energy producing mitochondria.

Dr. Mark Hyman gave a talk at Google in which he says ...

"having adequate levels of nutrients, particularly the methylating nutrients, B6, folate, B12, vitamin D, omega-3 fats, these are critical for brain function." [see 46 minutes into video on right]


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