B Vitamins Might Help Keep Our Memories Safe

When we get older, we naturally worry more about our memory failing us. It’s an unfortunate cliché of old age, when most people would give almost anything to hang on to their thoughts. And while it might seem like it’s something we have no control over, now it seems that B vitamins might hold the key to ensuring we keep hold of our memories for as long as possible.

A new study has suggested that vitamin B supplements could slow mental decline and help with memory loss for people who suffer with mild cognitive impairment (MCI). The researchers, from the University of Oxford and the University of Oslo found that taking daily vitamin supplements containing the B vitamins B6, B12 and folic acid led to a 30 percent reduction in levels of homocysteine as well as improvements in memory tests.

Homocysteine is an amino acid produced by the body, and elevated levels have been linked to an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, blood clots and a number of other serious medical conditions. Atrophy, or wasting, of the brain is a common problem seen in sufferers of MCI. And the condition itself can be an early sign of dementia. High levels of homocysteine appear to be a significant factor in working out the rate of atrophy.

There were 266 participants in the study had MCI and all were aged 70 or older. They were then assigned to receive either a daily dose of the B vitamins, or given a placebo. Tests of cognition, episodic memory and semantic memory showed that those who took the supplements scored significantly better than did participants who took the placebo.

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