One of the significant ways in which vitamin deficiency affects the body is by impacting the cognitive function of the brain. Dementia and impaired memory can stem from improper nutrition.
Vitamin deficiency is not common among older adults in the U.S. With access to virtually any food we want, this is natural. Yet, we do naturally decline as we grow older, and that has to do with nutrients. Most often these are a declining cognitive function (e.g. memory), impaired ability to fight infections (i.e. weakened immune system), and hip fractures and falls (due to weak bones).
Here I’d like to show you the latest findings from the very best studies about how vitamin and mineral supplements can impact memory. The following two articles in my series will then look at the immune system and weak bones angles.
Dementia, in older adults, is unfortunately common. It’s estimated that about 4.5 million people in the U.S. have it, with many others suffering a milder form of cognitive impairment. Dementia’s cause is unknown. One popular theory is that high blood levels of homocysteine (a dangerous amino acid) are linked not only with heart disease, but also with dementia. Since high blood levels of homocysteine are easily lowered by folic acid and vitamin B12, there are many high-quality studies out there that have proved it. Here are some:
— 1992: 76 patients in their 70s. None had impaired memory. Vitamin B6, at 20 mg, improved their ability to store information.
— 2000: 1,430 patients over 65. They suffered dementia. Vitamin B12 improved language function, thus their ability to communicate improved.
— 2003: 149 patients over 65. They had dementia or cognitive impairment. Folic acid (2 mg) and vitamin B12 (one mg) lowered homocysteine levels in the blood by 30%.
— 2005: 209 patients, average age 65. Found the same result as above with lower doses of the vitamins, as well as three mg of vitamin B6.
— 2006: 276 patients over 65. All three vitamins once again lowered homocysteine levels considerably.
Though these studies are great, they didn’t fully prove that the B-vitamins could improve people’s memory. They simply reduce levels of a harmful substance that deteriorates the memory. So it can be said that these supplements preserve memory. We’re about to learn more about this though, as in the next little while we will see the results of up to seven years of supplements on tens of thousands of people. Stay tuned.
Here are the previous articles in this series: