Friday, September 10, 2010

B vitamins also help prevent mental decline....

Today's Post: Friday, 9-10-2010

This Wednesday, Reuters had a story titled:

“B vitamins found to halve brain shrinkage in old” (people)

It was one of several stories on this study that was in the news this week.

Scientists from Oxford University did a 2-year clinical trial.

They tested larger doses of all 3 of the B vitamins that lower high levels of homocysteine: B6, B12, and folic acid -- on people with “ "mild cognitive impairment" -- a major risk factor for Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia.” AND a real nuisance to have.

In fact, about half the people diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment then get Alzheimer's disease within five years.

These daily amounts of these 3 B vitamins are one of several ways to lower high levels, above 9.0, of homocysteine in the blood, and high blood levels of homocysteine are linked to an increased risk of developing Alzheimer's disease and other forms of mental decline.

There was a control group who took the same kind of tablets or capsules but which had none of the B vitamins.

Each day, the experimental group got:

15 times the recommended amount of B6, about 20 mg;
300 times the recommended daily intake of B12, about 750 mcg ;
& four times the recommended folate levels, 1600 micrograms.

(By the way, taking up to 75 or even 100 mg a day of B6 is likely to be safe. But depending on the individual, taking between 100 mg to 200 mg a day begins to do your nerves more harm than good. More than 200 mg a day of B6 tends to cause nerve damage. So if you take extra B6, add the extra amount to the B6 in your multi and the B6 in your B complex tablet if you take one to see your total. Mine is 50 of B6, 5 mg of B6 in my multi, and 20 mg in my B complex supplement for a total of 75 mg a day.)

Brain scans were taken at the beginning and end of the 2 year trial to monitor the rate of brain shrinkage.

The results were published in the Public Library of Science (PLoS) One journal.

The results…. “showed that on average the brains of those taking the vitamin treatment shrank at a rate of 0.76 percent a year, while those taking the dummy pill had an average brain shrinkage of 1.08 percent.

People who had the highest levels of homocysteine at the start of the trial benefited the most from the treatment, with their brains shrinking at half the rate of those on the placebo.”

And, the article also had this quote:

“Although the trial was not designed to measure cognitive ability, the researchers found those people who had lowest rates of shrinkage had the highest scores in mental tests.”

You can also take 500 mg a day of NAC, n-acetyl Cysteine and 500 mg a day of a supplement called TMG, tri-methyl glycine, also called betaine, because it occurs naturally in beets. Each of these also lowers high homocysteine.

Some doctors who treat people with mental decline even have their patients take 500 mg of NAC twice a day and 500 mg of TMG three times a day.

They try to get the level of homocysteine down to 8.9 or below.

The other major way to lower homocysteine or not have it go up too high is to completely avoid tobacco smoke.

Other studies in people who already have heart disease in giving these levels of homocysteine are NOT this effective. Either the damage has already been done before the homocysteine was brought down or the bad foods and drinks in their diet – or their smoking – over-ride the effects of taking the B vitamins.

So, it’s wonderful news for those of us taking these supplements as I have been doing that doing so DOES help keep your brain full sized and operating well!

(By the way, the average American over 40 tends to have homocysteine well above 9.0, about 12.0 or more, and smokers tend to have levels above 15.0 – even younger ones.)

Given this study, this is NOT good news for future health care costs or keeping a productive workforce once people get older.

And, it may well mean YOU should be taking these vitamins too!

Doctors until now have been told that testing homocysteine is unnecessary in part because of the studies showing the other measures are enough to track heart disease risks and those showing that lowering it did not help existing heart disease sufferers.

But this new research gives you a reason to show your doctor as to why you should be tested. And that test IS available.

2. Also note if you are new to reading my posts on this subject that getting regular and vigorous exercise has very similar effects on mental function!

Your protective HDL goes up and your potentially harmful triglycerides and LDL, particularly the dangerous small particle kind go down. And, your level of chronic inflammation, too high blood sugar, and too high blood pressure also tend go down.

That set of benefits, plus the direct stimulation of your circulation when you exercise also gives your brain much better circulation than sedentary people get.

There is some evidence that the better control of your blood sugar helps prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

But best of all, just like the B vitamins, you tend to keep your brain full sized because such exercise DIRECTLY GROWS NEW BRAIN CELLS.

There is research showing that exercise grows new brain cells and reseasrch that shows that the brains of exercisers shrink far less than those of sedentary people.

3. Dr Al Sears’ email today also reminded me that avoiding aluminum based anti-perspirants helps avoid absorbing the aluminum into your blood where it has been implicated of being a cause of Alzheimer’s disease.

4. Lastly, eating curried foods several times a month that contain turmeric, which is the ingredient that makes curries yellow;
taking turmeric or curcumin – the active ingredient – supplements of about 500 to 600 mg a day;
and taking 2,000 iu a day or more of vitamin D3 each have been reported to lower the risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease.

Indeed, there is some research suggesting that doing these three things might reverse early Alzheimer’s disease.

I’m glad the research shows this stuff works. I do all of above.

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