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Old 09-15-2008, 08:51 AM
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Default Study: Vitamin B12 prevents brain shrinkage?

This came across my desk the other day. Since people with MS universally lose brain volume over time, this small study on Vitamin B12 could open doors to future research with MS patients on a wider scale. Now please, don't run out and buy massive amounts of B12 supplements because a) they may not interact properly with the medications you are already taking, b) taking too much B12 may be harmful in some cases, and c) the below study, not a clinical trial, tested B12 in diets, not pills or injections. But talking to your neuro about B12 at your next appointment might not be a bad idea to get his or her feedback....

High Levels of Vitamin B12 in Elders Reduce Risk of Brain Shrinkage

ST. PAUL, Minn -- September 9, 2008 -- Vitamin B12 may protect against brain volume loss in older people, according to a study published in the September 9 issue of Neurology.

"Previous research on the vitamin has had mixed results and few studies have been done specifically with brain scans in elderly populations. We tested for vitamin B12 levels in a unique, more accurate way by looking at 2 certain markers for it in the blood," said author Anna Vogiatzoglou, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom.

For the study, 107 people aged 61 to 87 years underwent brain scans, memory testing, and physical exams. Researchers also collected blood samples to check vitamin B12 levels. Brain scans and memory tests were then performed 5 years later.

The study found that people who had higher vitamin B12 levels were 6 times less likely to experience brain shrinkage compared with those who had lower levels of the vitamin in their blood. None of the people in the study had vitamin B12 deficiency.

"Many factors that affect brain health are thought to be out of our control, but this study suggests that simply adjusting our diets to consume more vitamin B12 through eating meat, fish, fortified cereals, or milk may be something we can easily adjust to prevent brain shrinkage and so perhaps save our memory," said Vogiatzoglou.

"Research shows that vitamin B12 deficiency is a public health problem, especially among the elderly, so more vitamin B12 intake could help reverse this problem. Without carrying out a clinical trial, we acknowledge that it is still not known whether B12 supplementation would actually make a difference in elderly persons at risk for brain shrinkage."

Vogiatzoglou said the study did not look at whether taking vitamin B12 supplements would have the same effect on memory.


SOURCE: American Academy of Neurology
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