A study published in Neurology in 2010 evaluated the blood and levels of Vitamin B12 in 271 normal individuals between the ages of 65-79. The study ran for seven years and chose this age range because of the high risk in these age groups for memory loss and stroke. Vitamin B-12 helps maintain healthy nerve cells and red blood cells. A vitamin B-12 deficiency, most common in vegetarians and older adults, can cause various signs and symptoms, including difficulty in memorizing, remembering names and faces and cognitive functions.
In this study, holotranscobalamin, the active ingredient in vitamin B12 (also known as cobalamin) is believed to lower the homocysteine blood levels associated in preventing brain shrinkage, reduce the risk of cognitive impairment, memory loss and dementia. Older people commonly have a low blood level of B12 (below 170-250 picomol per ml), and their risk for memory impairments are much greater. Results from the study showed the risk for Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) decreased by 16% for micromolar increase of B12 in their blood.
To put it into non-scientific terms: The higher your level of B12 in your blood, along with other risk factors, the better your risk of preventing Alzheimer’s or any other form of dementia. Although B12 is not the only consideration, this study shows there is good evidence to believe a lower level of B12 is a good indicator there could be memorizing and cognitive problems, and that more research will could prove or disprove this theory.
Maintaining a healthy diet, which includes a diet rich in vitamins such as B12 and others, is optimal to good memory fitness. Researchers do want to stress, however, that a balanced diet is much better in the body’s absorption of vitamin B12 than dietary supplements are. It is not present in plant foods, generally, but is rich in animal foods such as meat, poultry, fish and eggs.
Many breakfast cereals are also fortified with vitamin B-12 as well. If you’re concerned that you’re not getting enough B-12, consult your doctor – especially if you’re an older adult or a vegetarian who are more inclined to a vitamin B12 deficiency.
You may also need to know that the subjects in the trial studies over a 2-year period were given significantly more than the average minimum daily requirements on a vitamin bottle. That does not disprove the theory, but holds out new confidence that further study will come back with the message that vitamin B12 does help improve your memory, and is one of those valuable brain foods your body needs to help improve memorizing and cognitive functions.
Neurology: (2010; 75-1408-1414)
Mayo Clinic: Can vitamin B-12 improve memory in Alzheimer’s disease?
by Glenn Smith, PhD – http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/alzheimers/AN00478