Vitamin B12 may reduce risk of Alzheimer's disease

Oct 18, 2010

A new study shows that vitamin B12 may protect against Alzheimer's disease, adding more evidence to the scientific debate about whether the vitamin is effective in reducing the risk of memory loss. The research will be published in the October 19, 2010, issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

"Our findings show the need for further research on the role of vitamin B12 as a marker for identifying people who are at increased risk of Alzheimer's disease," said study author Babak Hooshmand, MD, MSc, with Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden. "Low levels of vitamin B12 are surprisingly common in the elderly. However, the few studies that have investigated the usefulness of vitamin B12 supplements to reduce the risk of have had mixed results."

For the seven-year study, researchers took blood samples from 271 Finnish people age 65 to 79 who did not have dementia at the start of the study. During that time, 17 people developed Alzheimer's disease. Blood samples were tested for levels for homocysteine, an amino acid associated with vitamin B12, and for levels of the active portion of the vitamin, called holotranscobalamin. Too much homocysteine in the blood has been linked to negative effects on the brain, such as . However, higher levels of vitamin B12 can lower homocysteine.

The study found that for each micromolar increase in the concentration of homocysteine, the risk of Alzheimer's disease increased by 16 percent, whereas each picomolar increase in concentration of the active form of vitamin B12 reduced risk by two percent. The results stayed the same after taking into account other factors, such as age, gender, education, smoking status, and . The addition of folate did not appear to raise or lower the risk of Alzheimer's disease.

"More research is needed to confirm these findings before vitamin B12 should be used solely as a supplement to help protect memory," said Hooshmand.

can be found in fish, poultry and other meat products.

Explore further: Kids allowed to 'sip' alcohol may start drinking earlier

Related Stories

Vitamin B12 may protect the brain in old age

Sep 08, 2008

Vitamin B12, a nutrient found in meat, fish and milk, may protect against brain volume loss in older people, according to a study published in the September 9, 2008, issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academ ...

Vitamin B-12 function may be diminished by excessive folate

Dec 18, 2007

In a study of adults aged 20 and over, researchers at Tufts University showed that homocysteine and methylmalonic acid are at much higher levels in individuals who have a combination of vitamin B12 deficiency and high blood ...

Recommended for you

Why icing doesn't work to heal injuries

33 minutes ago

Applying ice to a muscle after injury is a commonly prescribed therapy for treating muscle bruises. But does it really speed recovery time and help the muscle to heal?

Sleep apnea during pregnancy is not good for mother or baby

49 minutes ago

Sleep apnea, a disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops during sleep, is a potentially serious condition because it deprives the body of oxygen. It becomes an even more serious condition in pregnant women—who ...

More reasons why getting a good night's sleep is important

55 minutes ago

Not getting enough sleep not only makes our minds less alert, but our bodies too. Studies have suggested that losing several hours of sleep can slow the body's metabolism, but what about losing only a few hours? A team of ...

Should we tax unhealthy foods?

55 minutes ago

What does a 20-ounce bottle of soda cost? If you said 99 cents, you are only partly right. While that may be the price on the sticker at the store, it doesn't take into account the cost to public health. One study, for example, ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.