December 1, 2011
The New York Times
By JANE E. BRODY
“If you’re a vegetarian or vegan, supplementing B-12 is important.” –KTRN
Ilsa Katz was 85 when her daughter, Vivian Atkins, first noticed that her mother was becoming increasingly confused.
“She couldn’t remember names, where she’d been or what she’d done that day,” Ms. Atkins recalled in an interview. “Initially, I was not too worried. I thought it was part of normal aging. But over time, the confusion and memory problems became more severe and more frequent.”
Her mother couldn’t remember the names of close relatives or what day it was. She thought she was going to work or needed to go downtown, which she never did. And she was often agitated.
A workup at a memory clinic resulted in a diagnosis of early Alzheimer’s disease, and Ms. Katz was prescribed Aricept, which Ms. Atkins said seemed to make matters worse. But the clinic also tested Ms. Katz’s blood level of vitamin B12. It was well below normal, and her doctor thought that could be contributing to her symptoms.
October 6th, 2011
By: John Phillip
Many people are aware that vitamin B12 status declines during aging, as millions of seniors fall prey to a decline in this critical nutrient. Vitamin B12 circulating in the blood declines in the elderly due to absorption problems in the digestive tract leading to poor uptake by body tissues, especially the brain. Researchers publishing in the journal Neurology have established a definitive link between poor vitamin B12 levels and brain shrinkage, a hallmark of cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s dementia. Supplementation with the biologically active form of the B vitamin may help prevent shrinkage and preserve learning capabilities and memory functions as we age.
The study involved 121 participants from the Chicago Health and Aging Project who underwent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans for over a period of four and a half years. Additionally, each member of the study had blood drawn to measure levels of vitamin B12 and B12-related markers that can indicate a B12 deficiency. The same subjects took tests measuring their memory and other cognitive skills.
Vitamin B12 Deficiencies Linked to Shrinking Brain Volume and Cognitive Decline Among Elderly
MRI scans were analyzed to measure total brain volume and to look for other signs of brain damage. The tests included seven measures of episodic memory, two measures of visual spatial ability and perceptual organization, two measures of perceptual speed, two measures of semantic memory, and three measures of working memory. Stored blood samples were analyzed for vitamin B12 and homocysteine, a byproduct of metabolism associated with dementia, cognitive decline and coronary artery disease.
Researchers determined that having high levels of four of five markers for vitamin B12 deficiency was associated with having lower scores on the cognitive tests and smaller total brain volume. Indicators of vitamin B12 insufficiency contributed to poor global cognitive test scores and a decrease in brain volume revealed by MRI findings compared to those with better B12 status. Higher levels of the vitamin B12 markers were linked to decreased total brain volume. Elevated homocysteine levels were indicative of greater white matter volume and elevated risk of cerebrovascular events.
Lead researcher, Dr. Christine Tangney concluded “Our findings suggest that … vitamin B12 deficiency, may affect cognition by reducing total brain volume whereas the effect of homocysteine on cognition may be mediated through increased white matter hyperintensity volume and cerebral infarcts.” Vitamin B12 deficiency among the elderly is a significant cause for concern and may very well be a key contributor to the explosion of Alzheimer’s disease cases over the past 50 years. Nutritionists recommend supplementing with the bioactive form of B12 known as methylcobalamin (1 to 5 mg per day taken sublingually) to regulate circulating levels of this critical brain nutrient.
September 30, 2010
By: S.L. Baker
Hearing loss is the most common sensory disorder in the United States, and more than 36 million Americans have lost some of their hearing. Mostly, hearing loss is blamed on getting older. But evidence is accumulating that the real culprit could be a lack of B vitamins — especially folate.
For example, in 2007 scientists from Wageningen University in the Netherlands studied 728 men and women between the ages of 50 and 70 and found that by taking folic acid supplements, age-related hearing loss in the low frequency range was significantly delayed. Then, at last year’s American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery Foundation (AAO-HNSF) Annual Meeting in San Diego, a Boston-based research team discussed evidence showing that when men over the age of 60 had a high folate intake from foods and/or vitamins, they decreased their risk of losing their hearing by 20%.
Now a new study, dubbed the Blue Mountains Hearing Study and headed by scientists at the University of Sydney in Australia, has revealed yet another important link between folate and hearing. The researchers found that when people have low levels of the B vitamin in their blood, they have a significantly increased risk of hearing loss. The research was recently published in The Journal of Nutrition.
The study, which involved researchers from several Australian universities, looked at 2,956 people age 50 and up. Blood levels of vitamin B-12, folate and homocysteine were measured and then compared to the amount of hearing loss in the research subjects. The results? People with low levels of folate (below 11 nanomoles per liter) had a 34% increased risk of hearing loss.
What’s more, elevated levels of the amino acid homocysteine (over 20 micromoles per liter) were linked to a 64% increase in the risk of hearing loss. Excess levels of homocysteine have previously been associated with an increased risk of heart disease and memory problems. Too much homocysteine is also believed to disrupt normal blood flow to the inner ear — which could possibly explain the homocysteine and hearing loss connection. And a body of earlier research has concluded adequate B vitamin levels are associated with normal homocysteine levels in the blood.
NaturalNews has previously reported on other ways folate is important to maintaining and protecting health. For example, studies show it may protect from breast cancer and help prevent memory loss, too.