Taking B vitamins doesn’t slow mental decline as we age, nor is it likely to prevent Alzheimer’s disease, conclude Oxford University researchers who have assembled all the best clinical trial data involving 22,000 people to offer a final answer on this debate.
High levels in the blood of a compound called homocysteine have been found in people with Alzheimer’s disease, and people with higher levels of homocysteine have been shown to be at increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Taking folic acid and vitamin B-12 are known to lower levels of homocysteine in the body, so this gave rise to the ‘homocysteine hypothesis’ that taking B vitamins could reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
The new analysis was carried out by the B-Vitamin Treatment Trialists’ Collaboration, an international group of researchers led by the Clinical Trial Service Unit at the University of Oxford. The researchers brought together data from 11 randomized clinical trials involving 22,000 people which compared the effect of B vitamins on cognitive function in older people against placebo. Participants receiving B vitamins did see a reduction in the levels of homocysteine in their blood by around a quarter. However, this had no effect on their mental abilities.
When looking at measures of global cognitive function — or scores for specific mental processes such as memory, speed or executive function — there was no difference between those on B vitamins and those receiving placebo to a high degree of accuracy.
‘It would have been very nice to have found something different,’ says Dr Robert Clarke of Oxford University, who led the work. ‘Our study draws a line under the debate: B vitamins don’t reduce cognitive decline as we age. Taking folic acid and vitamin B-12 is sadly not going to prevent Alzheimer’s disease.’
The study was funded by the British Heart Foundation, the UK Medical Research Council (MRC), Cancer Research UK, the UK Food Standards Agency and the Department of Health. The findings are published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
‘Taking supplements like B vitamins doesn’t prevent heart disease, stroke or cognitive decline,’ says Professor Clarke. ‘About 25󈞊% of the adult population take multi-vitamins, often with the idea that they are also good for the heart or the brain, but the evidence just isn’t there. Much better is to eat more fruit and vegetables, avoid too much red meat and too many calories, and have a balanced diet.’
Maternal folic acid intake before and during early pregnancy reduces a woman’s risk of having a neural tube defect birth defect and those thinking of having a baby are routinely advised to take folic acid supplements. Countries that have adopted mandatory population-wide folic acid fortification programmes have also demonstrated reductions in neural-tube defect associated pregnancies without any adverse effects.
Dr Simon Ridley, Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:
Get a ripped body fast: http://sixpackshortcuts.com/rdmG What’s up, It’s Mike Chang with sixpackshortcuts and today is leg day! We’ve finally got some nice w…
Video Rating: 4 / 5
Does your child get enough exercise? You can get your children more active with these 5 fun parenting tips.
In just four steps, you can improve your health for the better and this article will show you how. The steps below are bite-sized nuggets of health information you can actually use to live a healthy life. Here we go… Nutritional supplements are the first step As far as I’m concerned, they are very important […]
Several food and nutrition trends were in the spotlight this year, including the continued rise of plant-based diets, non-dairy ice creams and superfoods that are blasts from the past — legumes, apples and cabbage. It can be easy to experience nutrition whiplash in the New Year, but don’t be a victim. Get a jump-start on […]
If you want to lose weight, you’re not alone. More than half of Americans desire to shed pounds, according to Gallup. This goal inspires people to take action in many ways, from increasing exercise to modifying meals. One thing many people do is skip breakfast in order to lower calorie intake. While this may seem […]