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High levels of vitamin B12 delays onset of Alzheimer's, says study

The vitamin could halve the rate of brain shrinkage in older people.

EVIDENCE OF A link between high levels of vitamin B12 and the delay of the development of Alzheimer’s disease has been backed by a new study published in the journal Neurology, the BBC reports.

However, the BBC reports that an Alzheimer’s charity said that it was “too early” to think about recommending supplements and has called on more research to be conducted.

Vitamin B has been linked to Alzheimer’s for years; this is because scientists have confirmed that higher levels of a body chemical called homocysteine raises the risk of both strokes and dementia.

However, increased amounts of vitamin B12 in the bloodstream lowers the levels of homocysteine on the body.

Recently a trial found that “brain shrinkage” could be reduced by increased levels of vitamins ingested, including B12.

The research was conducted by the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, and all 271 volunteers were aged 65 to 79. None of the volunteers had dementia at the beginning of the study.

Over the course of the following seven years, 17 volunteers were diagnosed with the condition.

Researchers found that those with high levels of homocysteine seemed to be at greater risk, and those with the highest levels of the vitamin semed to be at lower risk.


Professor Helga Refsum, from the University of Oslo, said that the study supported existing evidence that that low levels of B12 were linked to Alzheimer’s.

Though relatively small, with few cases of dementia, it should act as another incentive to start a large scale trial with homocysteine-lowering therapy using B vitamins to see whether such a simple treatment may slow the development of Alzheimer’s or other dementia.

However Rebecca Wood, the chief executive of the Alzheimer’s Research Trust, urged patience – saying that a definite link was not yet proven:

The strongest evidence we have for reducing dementia risk is to eat a healthy, balanced diet, take moderate exercise, and keep cholesterol and blood pressure in check, particularly in mid-life.