Last Updated: February 1, 2019
How diet affects Alzheimer’s disease has been proven time again. Now, a recent study conducted by Oxford’s Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences examines vitamin B and it’s role in slowing down the progression of the disease.
Learn more about Vitamin B – found in foods like cereals, dairy and fish – and its impact on Alzheimer’s progression.
Can Vitamin B Slow Alzheimer’s Progression?
Vitamin B was once thought to be a single vitamin but we now know that it is actually a group of substances that are not chemically related but are often found in the same foods.
This group of water-soluble vitamins plays an important role in cell metabolism and includes the vitamins:
- Folic acid
- Pantothenic acid
The main role of Vitamin B is to keep cells healthy and prevent anemia.
Recently, a study from Oxford’s Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences has found another benefit of vitamin B. The study included over 150 seniors who had mild cognitive impairment and were at high risk of developing Alzheimer’s or dementia. Some participants received a vitamin B supplement while others received a placebo pill. Researchers observed the amount of grey matter in the brain over two years through MRI technology in both groups. Grey matter in the brain shrinks with the development of cognitive decline.
While both groups had grey matter shrink over the two-year span, those taking the vitamin B supplement had less grey matter shrinkage than the placebo group.
The study abstract concluded that the “results show that vitamin B supplementation can slow the atrophy of specific brain regions that are a key component of the Alzheimer’s process and that are associated with cognitive decline.”
Ways to Include Vitamin B in Your Diet
New research points to two specific types of vitamin B that may play a role in slowing Alzheimer’s progression:
- Vitamin B-3: An additional study found that vitamin B-3, also known as nicotinamide, reversed Alzheimer’s related memory loss in mice. The research team found that nicotinamide riboside (NR), a form of vitamin B-3, helped the brain to repair DNA, a function of the brain that is damaged by Alzheimer’s. Scientists added NR to water of mice that were genetically engineered to develop symptoms of Alzheimer’s. After three months, their brains and cognitive health were similar to the control mice.
- Vitamin B-12: Another form of vitamin B that plays a role in cognitive health is vitamin B-12. A deficiency in vitamin B-12 may mimic signs of Alzheimer’s like behavior changes, increased agitation and memory loss. Several studies have linked a vitamin B-12 deficiency with symptoms of Alzheimer’s and actual shrinkage of the brain.
Vitamin B is found in a variety of foods and not getting enough can have dangerous side effects.
You can try to incorporate more of these foods in your diet to ensure you are getting the vitamin B you need to stay healthy (with the approval of a physician):
- Leafy green vegetables
- Some bread and cereals also have added vitamin B
Has a B supplement helped to slow Alzheimer’s progression in your parent or senior loved one? What are your favorite foods to eat that are rich in vitamin B? We’d like to hear from you in the comments below.