Sunday, September 14, 2008

B12 may help prevent brain shrinkage

In a study published in the September 9, 2008, issue of the journal Neurology®, researchers from Oxford University and the University of Oslo report an association between decreased levels of vitamin B12 and a decline in brain volume. Reduced brain volume, or brain atrophy, has been associated with Alzheimer's disease, and is used as a marker of the disease’s progression.

The study included 107 participants in the Oxford Project to Investigate Memory and Aging (OPTIMA), who did not have cognitive impairment upon enrollment. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans of the brain, cognitive assessments, and physical examinations were conducted at the beginning of the study and annually over a five year period. Blood plasma samples collected upon enrollment and yearly thereafter were analyzed for folate, B12, homocysteine, and the vitamin B12 markers holotranscobalamin, transcobalamin saturation and methylmalonic acid.

Comparison of MRI images obtained at the beginning of the study with those scanned after five years found a greater amount of brain volume loss among participants with low plasma levels of vitamin B12. Subjects whose plasma B12 levels were among the lowest one-third of participants at less than 308 picomoles per liter had a six times greater adjusted risk of increased brain volume loss than those whose vitamin B12 levels were in the top two-thirds. Similar patterns were observed for holotranscobalamin and transcobalamin saturation. Continue Reading

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