Vitamin B can help to increase metabolism, support the immune system and keep skin healthy. Now, new research, based on clinical trials in England, indicates the nutrient may also help slow the rate of brain shrinkage in elderly people who experience memory problems, such as dementia or Alzheimer's disease (AD).
Gustavo Roman, M.D., medical director of the Alzheimer and Dementia Center at the Methodist Neurological Institute, noted that high blood levels of homocysteine, an amino acid, contribute to the increased risk for developing AD.
According to the trial, B vitamins, including B-6, B-12 and folic acid, slow down the progression of dementia. As a result, patients who show signs of this disorder and test positive for high homocysteine levels are more likely to respond well to vitamin B doses.
Roman said that although vitamin B may not help to prevent dementia, it "could be a step toward modifying disease progression."
There are many healthy foods that contain vitamin B that people could add to their diet, which may help to protect their memory. These include bananas, potatoes, whole grains, beans, chili peppers and tuna.