- Lower quantities of vitamin B12 in older individuals can potentially increase the risk of brain atrophy, which is associated with Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive impairment.
- Vitamin B12 levels are important to monitor, especially in the elderly, vegetarians, pregnant and nursing women, and infants. A balanced and varied diet is key to maintaining optimal B12 levels.
- The study found a significant link between low levels of B12 and greater brain volume loss. People with the lowest B12 levels showed six times the rate of brain density loss when compared to those with the highest levels.
- Vitamin B12 deficiency is not the only factor leading to brain atrophy; other risk factors include high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol. Further research is needed to establish the link between B12 intake and brain shrinkage.
Recent research asserts that older persons exhibiting lower quantities of vitamin B12 may face an increased risk of brain atrophy or degradation, commonly linked with Alzheimer’s malady and cognitive impairment.
Understanding the Crucial Role of Vitamin B12
While the research doesn’t affirmatively attribute reduced B12 proportions to the cause of brain atrophy, it strongly proposes that there is a need to be more conscious of our B12 status – especially those vulnerable to B12 deficiency such as the elderly, vegetarians, expectant and nursing women, and newborns. Thus, taking active measures to maintain it through a balanced and varied diet is necessary.
Co-author Anna Vogiatzoglou, a qualified dietetic professional and Doctorate student at Oxford University’s Department of Physiology, Anatomy, and Genetics in England, emphasizes the importance of maintaining a keen eye on our B12 levels through a routine blood examination.
“B12 is essential and it’s not harmful to include it in your diet,” adds Dr. Shari Midoneck, doctor at the Iris Cantor Women’s Health Centre in New York city. Notable dietary sources of B12 include meat, fish, milk, and fortified cereals.
The Impact of Vitamin B12 Deficiency
According to the research authors, disregarding Vitamin B12 deficiency poses negative implications to public health, particularly concerning the elderly population.
The study encompassed 107 participants, aged 61 to 87, who were all mentally healthy at the commencement of the study. Each participant received annual medical check-ups, MRI scans, cognitive tests, and also had blood samples collected.
Those with a lesser concentration of vitamin B12 at the study’s beginning experienced a steeper decline in brain volume. Participants with the lowest B12 levels registered a six-time greater rate of brain volume loss versus those with the highest levels of the vitamin.
Intriguingly, none of the study participants exhibited a complete deficiency in vitamin B12; they merely had low levels within a standard range.
Other Potential Triggers of Brain Atrophy
Additional risk factors of brain shrinkage include high blood pressure, diabetes, and elevated cholesterol.
Assessing B12 levels not only potentially modifies the risk factor for cognitive decline but might also provide an earlier indication to clinicians for cognitive aberrations.
It’s still uncertain what the biological mechanisms behind this correlation might be or whether an increased intake of B12 would curb cerebral atrophy.
“We are currently running a clinical trial in Oxford giving B vitamins, inclusive of B12, to elderly people with memory degradation. Through MRI scans performed at the beginning and end of the trial, we’re hoping to uncover if B vitamin intake truly decelerates brain shrinkage. This trial will wind up in 2009,” Vogiatzoglou revealed.
To discover more about vitamin B-12, visit the National Institutes of Health.