A shrinking brain is one of the symptoms of mild cognitive impairment which often leads to dementia and the research, published in the journal Public Library of Science One, said that half of the 168 elderly people with cognitive impairment who took part were given high levels of folic acid, B6 and B12 and the rest got a placebo. The people taking the vitamins saw their brain shrinkage slow by 30 per cent on average and in some cases by more than 50 per cent.
The vitamins control levels of homocysteine which is linked with faster brain shrinkage and Alzheimer's.
The study's author, Professor David Smith, said: "It's a bigger effect than anyone could have predicted and it's telling us something biological. These vitamins are doing something to the brain structure – they're protecting it, and that's very important because we need to protect the brain to prevent Alzheimer's."
We have known for a long time that the B vitamins are essential for healthy nerves, skin, eyes and hair, and for a healthy liver, but this news has increased the importance of our vegetables and fruits that provide vitamin B in a natural way, and make the Governments 5-a-day campaign an essential part of any thinking persons life regime.
The dietary steps that can be taken to maximise intake of vitamin B are:
- Eat leafy green vegetables, cantaloupe, asparagus, beets and brewer's yeast to get enough folic acid.
- Add enriched whole-grain products, broccoli, asparagus, mushrooms, leafy green vegetables, Brussels sprouts and grains such as millet to your diet for adequate B-2, or riboflavin.
- Spike your diet with soy products, yeast and cereals for biotin. Beef liver and clams are also a good source.
- Eat whole grains, brewer's yeast, wheat germ, oysters and enriched bread for B-1, or thiamine.
- Feast on chicken, salmon, potatoes and whole-grain products for B-3, or niacin. Peanuts and peanut butter are also good sources of niacin.
- Eat brown rice, soy products, whole grains, bananas, strawberries, leafy green vegetables, wheat germ and oatmeal for B-6, or pyridoxine. Other sources include broccoli, asparagus, fish, chicken and watermelon.
- Eat foods of animal origin for B-12, or cobalamin. Vegetarians can get B-12 from fortified products, some fermented soy foods such as miso, and Red Star brand Y3365 yeast.
- Find pantothenic acid in a wide variety of plant and animal sources, including eggs, avocados, mushrooms, chicken and oranges.
The message is to keep eating that vitamin B and extend your useful life. I'm researching the vitamin B content of our individual fruit and vegetables and I'll blog that shortly.