B Vitamins: Lowers Homocysteine resulting in slower acceleration of Brain Atrophy

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A study from 2010 entitled Homocysteine-Lowering by B Vitamins Slows the Rate of Accelerated Brain Atrophy in Mild Cognitive Impairment: A Randomized Controlled Trial, PLoS One. 2010; 5(9): e12244. Published online 2010 Sep 8. doi:  10.1371/journal.pone.0012244, determined whether supplementation with B vitamins that lower levels of plasma total homocysteine can slow the rate of brain atrophy in subjects with mild cognitive impairment in a randomised controlled trial.

The tissue and plasma concentrations of homocysteine are largely determined by the body’s status of certain B vitamins (folate, B6 and B12), which are cofactors or substrates for enzymes involved in homocysteine metabolism.  Homocysteine is a risk factor for brain atrophy, cognitive impairment and dementia. There is a wide body of scientific evidence that plasma concentrations of homocysteine can be lowered by dietary administration of B vitamins.

The 2010 study was a single-center, randomized, double-blind controlled trial of high-dose folic acid, vitamins B6 and B12 in 271 individuals (of 646 screened) over 70 y old with mild cognitive impairment. A subset (187) volunteered to have cranial MRI scans at the start and finish of the study.

Participants were randomly assigned to two groups of equal size, one treated with:

  • folic acid (0.8 mg/d)
  • vitamin B6 (20 mg/d)
  • vitamin B12 (0.5 mg/d)

the other with placebo; treatment was for 24 months.

A total of 168 participants (85 in active treatment group; 83 receiving placebo) completed the MRI section of the trial. The mean rate of brain atrophy per year was 0.76% [95% CI, 0.63–0.90] in the active treatment group and 1.08% [0.94–1.22] in the placebo group (P = 0.001). The treatment response was related to baseline homocysteine levels: the rate of atrophy in participants with homocysteine >13 µmol/L was 53% lower in the active treatment group (P = 0.001). A greater rate of atrophy was associated with a lower final cognitive test scores.

The conclusion of the study was that the accelerated rate of brain atrophy in elderly with mild cognitive impairment can be slowed by treatment with homocysteine-lowering B vitamins.


Resources:

Folic Acid (as L-Methylfolate)

Vitamin B6 (as Pyridoxal 5’-phosphate)

Vitamin B12 (as Methylcobalamin)

Whole Food Vitamin B Complex


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