With an estimated 5.2 million Americans living with Alzheimer's, this disease remains a top priority among scientists and researchers. That number is expected to reach seven million by 2025, according to the Alzheimer's Association. With no known cure, only treatments to delay its effects, a diagnosis of Alzheimer's is both devastating and life changing.
One such study was published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, in which researchers found a link between B vitamins and slower atrophy of gray brain matter.
What is Alzheimer's?
According to the Alzheimer's Association, Alzheimer's is a form of dementia characterized by loss of memory and changes in thinking and behavior. Most people affected by Alzheimer's are age 65 or older, but aging doesn't mean someone will automatically develop Alzheimer's. It's also possible to develop early onset Alzheimer's while in the 40s and 50s. It's a progressive disease that eventually leads to loss of communication skills and overall cognitive function, making it the sixth leading cause of death among Americans.
According to the Mayo Clinic, patients diagnosed with Alzheimer's first experience loss of memory, especially information they recently learned. Over time, they become more disoriented and lose their ability to speak properly, reason for themselves and make decisions. One of the most painful experiences for the family members of those with Alzheimer's is when the patient is no longer able to recall who they are. There is no present cure for Alzheimer's, which is why the results of this new study are particularly inspiring as research continues.
How can B vitamins help?
B vitamins are essential for energy production and the health of the central nervous system, which explains their benefit in relation to Alzheimer's disease. The vitamins that showed the most benefit in the study were B6 and B12, combined with folic acid. Led by A. David Smith of Oxford University in England, the study involved 156 participants with mild memory loss and high homocysteine levels. Those who took the B vitamins saw a less than 1 percent decline in gray matter over a period of two years, while the placebo group saw a decline of 5.2 percent. The combination used in the study was 0.5 mg of B12, 0.8 mg of folic acid and 20 mg of B6.
B vitamin supplements in varying doses are widely available, both as single nutrients and as combination supplements. Your doctor can help you determine if this treatment may be beneficial and recommend an appropriate dose. The study of B vitamins for Alzheimer's continues, but any step in the direction of a cure is reason to hope.
Additional Ways to Support Brain Health and Function
It's never to early to start protecting your mind, even if Alzheimer's isn't present within your family. Here are some ways to support healthy cognitive function:
Get more omega-3 essential fatty acids into your diet.
Add a huperzine A supplement to your routine to maintain healthy acteylcholine levels and improve memory.
Exercise your mind regularly with games or puzzles.
Maintain a healthy, balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables for nutrients and antioxidants.
Check out eVitamins' full selection of B vitamin supplements to find the one that's right for your needs. Taking steps now to look after your brain can really make an impact later on.