A new study published in the September 9, 2008, issue of Neurology® shows that vitamin B12, a nutrient found in meat, fish and milk, may protect against brain volume loss in older people.
For the study, 107 people between the ages of 61 and 87 underwent brain scans, memory testing and physical exams. Researchers also collected blood samples to check vitamin B12 levels. Brain scans and memory tests were also performed again five years later.
While none of the people in this study had vitamin B12 deficiency, the study did find that people who had the higher vitamin B12 levels were six times less likely to experience brain shrinkage compared with those who had lower levels of the vitamin in their blood.
“Many factors that affect brain health are thought to be out of our control, but this study suggests 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 and so perhaps save our memory,” said study author Anna Vogiatzoglou, MSc, with the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom.
Research shows that vitamin B12 deficiency is a public health problem, especially among the elderly, so more vitamin B12 intake could help reverse this problem. Without carrying out a clinical trial on Vitamin B12 supplementation, these researchers can not say with certainty that B12 supplements would make the same difference in elderly persons at risk for brain shrinkage. Still, it seems logical to me to include plenty of B12 foods (as listed above) in the diet as well as Vitamin B as a daily supplement.