A recent study out of Oxford University makes it sound like taking a common vitamin can prevent brain shrinkage and dementia. If it were only that simple.
The study, published in the latest issue of Neurology, followed over 100 seniors for five years. None of the participants had any memory loss at the start of the study. The researchers ran them through a gamut of tests. These included MRI brain scans, which can show plaque in the brain. Plaque can be an early sign of Parkinson?s or Alzheimer?s diseases.
They also gave the patients cognitive and memory tests, along with physical exams. And to take it a step further, they measured their blood levels of vitamin B12 and folate.
None of the participants showed a deficiency of vitamin B12. However, those participants with the lowest blood levels of vitamin B12 (but still within the "normal" range) were six times more likely to have smaller brains than those with the highest levels. And brain shrinkage can reduce cognition.
Lead researcher, Anna Vogiatzoglou suggested that "simply adjusting our diets to consume more vitamin B12 through eating meat, fish, fortified cereals, or milk may be something we can easily adjust to prevent brain shrinkage…"
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Unless your body breaks down and uses the B12 in your diet or supplements, it?s not doing much good. For good absorption, you need to consider the following:
Both vitamin B12 and folate require sufficient hydrochloric acid (HCl) for proper absorption. If you?re taking any antacids, or if age has slowed down your body?s production of HCl, you may not have enough B12. There are other solutions to acid reflux besides antacids. To increase your B12 levels, find a way to get sufficient HCl.
My favorite solution is to repair the digestive system with a powerful, yet gentle, nutritional supplement, Integrative Digestive Formula (IDF). Its warming herbs combined with essential nutrients and medicinal mushrooms provide the building blocks your body needs to digest your foods and utilize vitamin B12. This means you don?t need to take enzymes and HCl forever. You can find this effective and unusual formula from Advanced Bionutritionals.
Next, consider the health of your intestines. Vitamin B12 is absorbed in your large intestine. If parasites, food intolerances, or irritating colon cleansers have caused inflammation, you may need to change your diet and take anti-inflammatory foods or herbs. Ginger, holy basil, turmeric, and green tea are just a few anti-inflammatory nutrients that can help restore irritated and inflamed tissues. All of these are included in an excellent formula, InflaThera, by ProThera (888-488-2488). It?s more powerful and less expensive than similar formulas like Zyflamend, found in health food stores.
Low B12 levels may be a symptom of a problem that can lead to brain shrinkage. But it?s unlikely that it?s the cause. If you want to solve this or any other health problem, you need to address the cause.
By the way, this study didn?t look at whether B12 supplements could improve memory. But if it can, don?t just take more B12 tablets or capsules. Your best bet is a B12 patch or sublingual supplement. These will ensure proper absorption.
Your voice of reason in Women's Health,
Dr. Janet Zand
Vogiatzoglou, A., Refsum, H., Johnston, C., Smith, S. M., Bradley, K. M., de Jager, C., Budge, M. M., Smith, A. D., "Vitamin B12 status and rate of brain volume loss in community-dwelling elderly." Neurology 2008 71: 826-832. September 9, 2008, Volume 71, Issue 11.