Vitamin B may slow Alzheimer’s, according to a study at the University of Oxford. While there is no medical treatment to prevent or stop the devastating disease, researchers are finding ways to slow the onset and progression.
Researchers David Smith and Gwenaëlle Douaud led the study to test whether Alzheimer’s patients may respond to high level doses of vitamins B12, B6, and folic acid. The study tracked the progress of 200 volunteers with mild cognitive impairment, or MCI.
Half the patients were given doses of B vitamins in either 200, 20, or four times the recommended daily allowance. The other half received placebos.
As reported by New Scientist, the patient’s brains were monitored, through MRI imaging, for changes. Previous researched showed that high doses of B vitamins slowed the reduction of brain matter in general. However, the new research explored specifically which parts of the brain were affected.
The hippocampus and cerebellum regions of the brain are the most adversely affected in Alzheimer’s patients. The study revealed that vitamin B slowed reduction in matter, significantly, in those particular regions.
The patients taking the placebo experienced atrophy at a rate of 5.2 percent, while those taking the vitamins only experienced a 0.6 percent reduction in brain matter.
Doctors point out that it is important to understand that MCI does not always lead to Alzheimer’s, it is merely a possible early indicator. Researchers have made the connection between vitamin B, and Alzheimer’s, as MCI is often indicated in Alzheimer’s patients.
As reported by the Alzheimer’s Association, vitamin E, in high doses, has also been shown to delay loss of cognitive function.
Despite the possible positive affects, patients and family members are warned that vitamins should only be taken with a doctor’s consent or recommendation. They can be fatal if misused. Additionally, they can interfere with prescription medications.
According to the study, Vitamin B may slow Alzheimer’s, offering patients and their families new hope. Some doctors already prescribe B vitamins to patients, in an effort to counteract some of the affects of Alzheimer’s. However, more research is needed before high doses become a regular and accepted treatment.
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