It has been estimated that 5 million Americans suffer with Alzheimer’s disease, the most prevalent of all forms of mental dementia. On a global scale, the condition affects a reported 26 million. At early onset, Alzheimer’s is known to cause memory loss, mood swings, confusion, paranoia, and social withdrawal from both family and friends. The disease can progress rapidly, causing the decline of cognitive functions and even death.
There is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, which makes it vital for young adults to understand the nature of this devastating condition as well as the ways in which it can be prevented.
Oxford University Researchers Say Vitamin B Might Protect Brain Health
Researchers at Oxford University have found an all-natural way to keep the brain healthy and functional, a key to preventing mental decline and the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. Over the course of 2 years, researchers found that participants who took a daily dose of B vitamins exhibited little to no memory loss compared to those taking a placebo. Moreover, participants taking B vitamins slowed the natural shrinkage of the brain by up to 50% (i).
According to the study, B vitamins seem to play a significant role in the chemical reaction needed to improve a number of cognitive functions, including memory. One of the most important of those chemicals is an amino acid called homocysteine. In healthy humans, homocysteine is continually transformed into a number of other important chemicals. One such chemical is acetylcholine, a substance that is known to improve memory.
For individuals who are mentally healthy, homocysteine levels are low while acetylcholine levels are relatively high—a sign that the brain is successfully converting one chemical to the other in order to facilitate memory and other normal mental functions. The opposite seems to be true for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease, however. Alzheimer’s patients exhibit high levels of homocysteine and low levels of acetylcholine—an indication that the brain is not converting one chemical to the other, and that memory and other cognitive functions are impaired.
The study produced by Oxford University is the first to demonstrate that B vitamins might have a clinical application in the improvement of mental health and the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease. According to the Oxford research team, “B vitamins lower homocysteine, which directly leads to a decrease in GM atrophy, thereby slowing cognitive decline,” (ii).
Sources of B Vitamins: Folic Acid, B6, and B12
There are many ways to fortify brain health with B vitamins. In the Oxford University study, participants showed substantial gains by simply taking a B vitamin supplement. Should you choose to take a supplement, consider the following tips:
1. Quality: Opt for a high quality B vitamin supplement from a well-known company with a reputation for superior quality. Today, a number of pharmaceutical grade supplements are available from specialty companies like Biotics Research Corporation. By choosing a reputable brand, you will ensure that your supplement is pure, safe, and effective.
2. Diversity: There are many types of B vitamins that can be used to improve both mental and physical health. The Oxford Study was conducted using Folic Acid, B6, and B12, so these are a good place to start. Niacin (B3) is another good B vitamin, as it is known to promote healthy metabolism of other vitamins.
3. Dosage: Reap the full benefits of B vitamins, without overdoing it. In the Oxford study, participants were given 0.8mg Folic Acid, 20mg B6, and 0.5mg B12 each day.
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(i) “B Vitamins Slow Progression of Alzheimer’s.” Natural News. Accessed 22 July 2013.
(ii) See above.