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THE POWER OF B VITAMINS

Men with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) took high doses of B vitamins, including folic acid, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12. After 2 years, those men lost significantly less gray matter—a key factor in maintaining your ability to stay sharp—in brain regions associated with Alzheimer’s than a placebo group.

THE POWER OF B VITAMINS

Experpt from Men’s Health, by Jessica Girdwain

B Vitamins could help prevent Alzheimer’s.

Men with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) took high doses of B vitamins, including folic acid, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12. After 2 years, those men lost significantly less gray matter—a key factor in maintaining your ability to stay sharp—in brain regions associated with Alzheimer’s than a placebo group.

B vitamins (particularly B12) help your body break down homocysteine, an amino acid in blood that’s linked to brain shrinkage. High levels of homocysteine are also associated with heart disease.

It’s unclear if popping B vitamins at a younger age can stave off future cognitive decline, and megadoses aren’t recommended. But keeping homocysteine levels low—which B can do—is key for healthy brain functioning, says study coauthor Gwenaelle Douaud, Ph.D., of the University of Oxford.

Patients who had low levels of homocysteine at the beginning of the study (and weren’t taking supplements) enjoyed as much brain protection as the B vitamin group.

For a boost, try foods naturally rich in B12, like fortified cereal, salmon, trout, and dairy. One Australian study found that middle-aged men with adequate B intakes reported better memory functioning than those who fell short.