The Vitamin That Stops Brain Shrinkage
Good vitamin B12 levels have been linked to better memory in older people. That’s no wonder. It’s absolutely vital for proper brain function. Now, a new study shows that B12 actually keeps your brain from shrinking as it ages.
The study found that people with the lowest blood levels of B12, and the highest levels of biochemicals associated with B12 deficiency had about six times more brain shrinkage, as measured by MRI over the course of five years, than people with the highest B12 levels. One important finding: No one in this study was ever B12 deficient. In other words, even the people with the most brain shrinkage had blood levels that most doctors would consider within a “low-normal” range. It seems that the current B12 recommendations for older people may not in fact be high enough to protect the brain as it ages.
The researchers think low B12 causes brain shrinkage by disturbing the integrity of brain myelin, the fatty protective sheath around nerve cells, or through inflammation, a known factor for Alzheimer’s and dementia.
“Many factors that affect brain health are thought to be out of our control, but this study suggest 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, M.Sc., of the University of Oxford in the U.S.
The truth is that many older people just don’t absorb enough of this vitamin from foods, because their stomach no longer produces intrinsic factor, a digestive enzyme required for B12 absorption. Supplemental B12 is a proven way for older people to raise their serum B12 to a healthy level.
The Anti-Aging Bottom Line: Protect your brain with supplemental vitamin B12. We recommend getting at least 500 mcg a day. People whose blood levels are extremely low may need B12 injections to get back to normal.