Vitamin B 'may slow progress of dementia'
Published: 9th Sep 2010 11:58:25
A large daily dose of vitamin B could help to delay the development of Alzheimer's disease, the most common cause of dementia.
Scientists at Oxford University studied the rate of brain shrinkage in 168 over-70s, all of whom had been diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment - a precursor to various forms of dementia.
Half of the participants were given a daily supplement containing high doses of folate, B6 and B12 for two years, while the remainder received a placebo (dummy pill).
Advanced magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was used to study the degree of brain shrinkage, which occurs naturally in old age but is known to happen faster in people with mild cognitive impairment who subsequently develop Alzheimer's disease.
The research revealed that the rate of brain shrinkage was typically 30 per cent slower in people who took B vitamin supplements than in those who took the placebo.
In some people, the reduction in the rate of brain shrinkage was as high as 53 per cent.
Writing in the Public Library of Science (PLoS) One journal, the study authors suggested that the supplements could help to delay the development of Alzheimer's disease.
They are thought to work by controlling levels of the amino acid homocysteine in the blood, high levels of which are associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer's.
Co-lead researcher Professor David Smith, from Oxford University's department of pharmacology, commented: "It is our hope that this simple and safe treatment will delay the development of Alzheimer's disease in many people who suffer from mild memory problems."
The professor said that the results were "immensely promising", but noted that more trials are needed to confirm whether or not this particular combination of B vitamins can slow or even prevent the development of Alzheimer's.
"I wouldn't yet recommend that anyone getting a bit older and beginning to be worried about memory lapses should rush out and buy vitamin B supplements without seeing a doctor," he added.
Professor Clive Ballard, director of research at the Alzheimer's Society, agreed that more research is necessary, as previous studies looking at B vitamins had produced "very disappointing" results.
However, he conceded: "This is an interesting study which could change the lives of thousands of people at risk of dementia."
At 15:55:43 in HeadlinesThe last communications between the South Korean ferry that sank on Wednesday and traffic services reveal panic and indecision by the crew.
At 15:48:44 in SportJamie Peacock (rested) and Ben Jones-Bishop (head) both return for Leeds Rhinos having missed the win at Bradford on Thursday.
At 15:41:06 in SportHull FC recall Ben Crooks, Jay Pitts and Aaron Heremaia following Thursday's dramatic derby defeat by Hull KR.
At 15:38:38 in EntertainmentIan McIntyre, a former controller of both BBC Radio 3 and BBC Radio 4, has died aged 82.
At 15:35:56 in SportFour races into this Formula 1 season, and Lewis Hamilton is effectively unbeaten. He might still narrowly trail Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg in the championship, but it is already looking as if only bad luck can stop him winning it.
At 15:35:52 in SportWidnes youngsters Grant Gore and Adam Lawton could make their first starts of the Super League season.
At 15:28:02 in SportWigan Warriors are without Ian Thornley (pectoral), Eddy Pettybourne (calf) and Ben Flower (ankle), who all suffered injuries in Good Friday's fine 33-14 win at St Helens.
At 15:25:57 in EnglandPeople trying to find an escaped 6ft-tall bird capable of running at 40mph say there has been a threat to kill it.
At 15:25:27 in SportManchester United striker Danny Welbeck is considering leaving the club.
At 15:07:21 in EnglandA sniffer dog has been brought in to find drugs in Shropshire and South Staffordshire hospitals.
Harvard CitationUK Wired, 2010. Vitamin B 'may slow progress of dementia' [Online] (Updated 9th Sep 2010)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news/88723/Vitamin-B-may-slow-progress-of-dementia [Accessed 20th Apr 2014]
News In Other Categories
Police are investigating the circumstances surrounding the death of a 30-year-old woman in west Belfast.
Singer Katherine Jenkins has become engaged to American film director and artist Andrew Levitas.
The demand for bigger buttocks in Venezuela means some women will even have banned injections to achieve them, putting their health at risk.
The last communications between the South Korean ferry that sank on Wednesday and traffic services reveal panic and indecision by the crew.
Two men are in hospital after an accident at a garage in Aberdeenshire.
Jamie Peacock (rested) and Ben Jones-Bishop (head) both return for Leeds Rhinos having missed the win at Bradford on Thursday.