Vitamin B12 and Alzeheimer’s Disease

By Samantha

Euskalanato via Flickr

Recently, scientists questioned whether the vitamin B12 could reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s disease is a brain disorder in which a person suffers from serious memory loss. Usually, people develop this disease when they are older, and 50% of the population over 85 years old has this disease. More than 5.3 million people in the United States suffer with this brutal disease, and it is very hard for both them and their family and friends to deal with. There are many stages, or phases, of this disease, and as the years go by, the worst the disease gets.  In the beginning, people may feel that they are forgetting things or facts more often than usual. Then, people begin to forget names, and they frequently forget what they have just read or done. They also begin to misplace objects. As the disease worsens, people have great difficulty performing tasks such as paying bills, and then is goes downhill from there. Eventually, the disease gets so bad that within a few years, people may forget how to do everyday task such as brushing their teeth, combing their hair, getting dressed, eating, going to the bathroom, or walking. They also forget who their loved ones are, and that is one of the worst parts of the disease, for both the patient and their friends and family.

Alzheimer’s is caused by the decreasing number of brain cells in a person’s head. Many of these brain cells have important jobs such as learning and remembering, and when they die, part of that job is lost. There is not a treatment for this disease yet, and that is one of the reasons why it is so brutal. But, scientists recently showed in a 7 year study that the Vitamin B12 might be able to lower the risk of a person’s likelihood of getting this disease.

Vitamin B12 is very important for your body because it is needed for the formation of red blood cells, and if you don’t get enough of it in your diet, you could develop anemia. You also need Vitamin B12 to process fats, carbohydrates, and proteins, and to maintain the nervous system. Vitamin B12 could be found in meat, fish, dairy, whole grain cereal or bread, egg yokes, or yeast.

In 2003, researchers took 271 Finnish people, who did not have dementia, and took blood samples from them. These people’s ages ranged from 65- 79. During this 7 year span, 17 people, about 6%, were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Researchers observed each of the people’s blood samples and looked at many variables. One variable was called homocysteine. If people have high homocysteine levels in their body, it most likely means that they have something wrong with their body, and it could be associated with Alzheimer’s disease, or other medical conditions such as blood clots, hardening of the arteries, heart attacks, or strokes. Researchers also observed the amount of holotranscobalamin, which is the active part in the B12 vitamin, in the Finnish people’s bodies.

At the end of the experiment, scientists learned that for each micromolar increase in the concentration of homocysteine, the risk of Alzheimer’s disease increased by 16 percent whereas each picomolar,  increase in concentration of the active form of vitamin B12 reduced risk by two percent.” Picolmolar is a measurement which is one trillionth of a mole. What this means is the more homocysteine in a person’s body, the greater the risk that person has of getting the disease. However, the more holotranscobalamin, or B12, the person has in his body, his risk of getting Alzhemier’s decreases by 2%. That shows you that B12 actually could help in preventing Alzheimer’s. Yet, scientists still need to do more tests before making a final decision and making it final that B12 could really help.

Here are some questions you could research:

How can people prevent Alzheimer’s?  Are there any other vitamins or foods that could prevent Alzheimer’s?  What factors could contribute to Alzheimer’s?  Where did Alzheimer’s get its name from?  Is there any particular region in the world where the number of people with Alzheimer’s is high?  When Was Alzheimer’s fist discovered and how?

  • Deirdre

    Good post Sam! Alzheimer’s was thought to be unpreventable until a little while ago when researchers was discovered that many things can contribute to better brain health. To prevent brain deterioration you can do regular exercise, have a healthy diet, continue mental stimulation, increase the quality of sleep, manage stress, and have an active social life.

  • Joeybronzz

    Great post Sam. This post really hit home because my great-grandmother Claire suffered from Alzheimer’s. It was very hard for the family. She had Alzheimer’s for thirteen years and died about 7 years ago. My Grandmother Arlene saw what happened to her mother and with new research she is part of an Alzheimer’s prevention plan with seven pillars. The steps she takes are regular vitamin supplements, she plays racket ball for 2 hours every morning, she has always slept well, she eats a Mediteranean diet, which her doctor prescribed as a preventive diet, she does one sudoku and one crossword puzzle each day, she bowls and goes out every night, and does stress release activity such as yoga. Her Doctor says at the current rate he see’s it unlikely to get the horrible disease that upset our family for so long. Thank you Sam for this post. 

  • Anonymous

    Great post Samantha! Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is almost as
    old as man. It got its name from a German physician, Alois Alzheimer. Dr.
    Alzheimer was the first person to actually understand what was happening inside
    the brains of affected people.

    He was treating a woman patient who exhibited symptoms of
    confusion, memory loss and had the unusual symptom of being suspicious of
    everyone around her.  After her death in 1906, he performed an autopsy and
    found twisted strands of nerve fibers in her brain as well as dense deposits on
    and around the nerve fibers. Later in 1907, he presented his work to a medical conference
    in Germany and described the changes found in his patient. This was the first
    known case of the disease. The disease is named after the first doctor who
    brought it to the public.

  • Jeffrey

    This research seems promising. If something as simple as adding more vitamin B12 to a person’s diet can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s then that is very encouraging news. Hopefully more positive research is on the way and we can get a better understanding of this terrible disease.

  • Anonymous

    interesting post Samantha. There are a few factors that can contribute to a person getting Alzheimer’s disease. The single greatest risk of getting Alzheimer’s  disease is age. Another factor can be genetics. a gene called Apolipoprotein appears to be a risk factor  for a form of alzheimers

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