Vitamin B and Alzheimer's: Study Shows Supplement Could Slow Effects

Tuesday, 21 May 2013 09:16 AM

By Alexandra Ward

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Elderly people can offset the effects of Alzheimer's disease with a new vitamin B supplement that makes them less susceptible to dementia, a new study suggests.

Researchers at Oxford University found that consuming vitamins B6, B12, and folic acid can lower levels of homocysteine, an amino acid linked to brain shrinkage and, subsequently, mental decline and dementia, by up to 90 percent.

"Our work shows that a key part of the process that leads to Alzheimer’s disease might be modified by a safe and simple intervention," David Smith, Professor Emeritus of Pharmacology at Oxford and the study leader, told the Daily Express.

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The supplement used in the study was a vitamin B combination pill called TrioBe Plus.

In the 77 study participants with high homocysteine levels, TrioBe Plus dramatically lowered the quantity of the amino acid present in the atrophied areas of the brain. The shrinkage rate of these areas was nearly 90 percent slower in those with high homocysteine levels who took B vitamins, compared with a placebo group.

"We hope that the outcome of this trial will encourage many more studies on the identification of modifiable risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease, now that we have established that in principle a crucial element of the disease, loss of specific brain tissue, might largely be prevented," Smith said.

It is not yet clear if the supplement would help those already in the late stages of Alzheimer's-induced dementia, or if it would prevent dementia in the long run.

"The challenge now is to identify the mechanisms by which lower homocysteine influences brain atrophy and to study larger cohorts of patients in trials to confirm that progression to dementia really can be slowed down," Hugh Perry, chairman of the Medical Research Council's Neurosciences and Mental Health Board, told the Daily Express.

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