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Life Extension Update

December 9, 2006 Printer Friendly
In this issue

Life Extension Update Exclusive

Vitamin B12 deficiency linked with reduced cognitive function scores

Health Concern

Mild cognitive impairment

Featured Products

Methylcobalamin Lozenges

Folic Acid & Vitamin B12 Capsules

Life Extension magazine

December 2006 issue now online!

Life Extension Update Exclusive

Vitamin B12 deficiency linked with reduced cognitive function scores

A report published in the December, 2006 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition revealed the finding of researchers in Great Britain that older individuals with a marker of low vitamin B12 status have reduced cognitive function scores. 

The current study included 84 participants in the Welsh cohort of the Medical Research Council’s Cognitive Function and Ageing Study (CFAS), a longitudinal study of men and women aged 65 and older. Stored blood samples were analyzed for vitamin B12, folate, creatinine, holotranscobalamin, which is the amount of vitamin B12 in serum bound to the transport protein transcobalamin, and methylmalonic acid, a compound that increases in vitamin B12 deficiency. The subjects completed the Mini-Mental State Examination and the Cognitive Section of the Cambridge Mental Disorders of the Elderly Examination (CAMCOG), which tested orientation, language, attention, memory, praxis, calculation, abstract thinking and perception. 

Forty-three percent of the study population was determined to have “likely metabolically significant vitamin B12 deficiency.” Not surprisingly, high methylmalonic acid concentrations were correlated with low levels of vitamin B12 and holotranscobalamin. Although none of the participants had dementia, 31 percent had test scores indicative of cognitive impairment. Having higher methylmalonic acid concentrations was correlated with worse Mini-Mental State Examination Scores and lower scores in the CAMCOG examination in the areas of language comprehension and expression, and ideational praxis. Deficient folate levels were less prevalent and had weak correlations with lower test scores in several areas. 

In an accompanying editorial, Joshua W. Miller of the University of California, Davis notes that only a few studies have assessed the associations between methylmalonic acid, holotranscobalamin and cognitive function. In the current study, only methylmalonic acid was found to be associated with cognitive function scores. “These results suggest that methylmalonic acid better reflects vitamin B12 status and is a better predictor of cognitive function in older adults than is total vitamin B12 or holotranscobalamin,” he writes. However, since inconsistent results have also been found to be associated with methylmalonic acid, some researchers have proposed screening tests for vitamin B12 deficiency that analyze a combination of factors. “The challenge now for investigators is to use these multiple analyte strategies in cohort studies to determine whether they improve the ability to predict cognitive deficits in older adults,” he concludes.

Health Concern

Mild cognitive impairment

Screening for cognitive changes should be done even before overt changes in cognitive ability are apparent so that diet and lifestyle changes, as well as supplementation, can be started early.

The test most often used to evaluate memory and cognitive function is the Mini-Mental Status Examination, which tests multiple aspects of cognitive function, including orientation to time, place, and person; memory; verbal and mathematical abilities; judgment; and reasoning. In elderly patients, the clinician should differentiate early-stage dementia from normal age-associated memory impairment. People with memory impairment have a relative deficiency in recall compared with others their age. They also tend to learn new information more slowly, but if they are given extra time for such tasks, their intellectual performance is usually adequate.

Vitamins are involved in biochemical processes throughout the body and appear to be involved in protecting and enhancing cognitive function. In particular, the B vitamins play an integral role in the functioning of the nervous system and help the brain synthesize chemicals that affect mood. A balanced complex of the B vitamins is essential for energy and for balancing hormone levels. An article in the Journal of Psychopharmacology described a study of 76 older men who were given vitamin B6 or placebo and then tested on memory function. The authors concluded that vitamin B6 improved storage and information retrieval (Deijen JB et al 1992). Another study reviewed vitamin B12 deficiency in relation to memory impairment and neuropathy in older people and concluded that both memory impairment and neuropathy can be successfully managed with vitamin B12 injections or supplementation (Carmel R 1996). One study determined that low levels of folate (a B vitamin) are associated with cognitive deficits and that patients treated with folic acid for 60 days showed a significant improvement in both memory and attention efficiency (Fioravanti MFE 1997).


Featured Products

Featured Products are reduced by 10 percent during Life Extension’s annual Super Sale

Methylcobalamin Lozenges

Methylcobalamin is the form of vitamin B12 active in the central nervous system. It is an active coenzyme of the vitamin B12 analogs, that is essential for cell growth and replication. The liver may not convert cyanocobalamin, the common supplemental form of vitamin B12, into adequate amounts of methylcobalamin the body may need for proper neuronal functioning. Methylcobalamin may exert its neuroprotective effects through enhanced methylation, acceleration of nerve cell growth, or its ability to promote healthy homocysteine levels.


Folic Acid & Vitamin B12 Capsules

B vitamins are used in the body individually or in combination with enzymes to help release energy from carbohydrates, fat, and protein. Vitamin B coenzymes are crucial to the metabolic pathways that generate the energy needed by every cell in the body. Because they are co-dependent in their metabolic activities, a deficiency of one B vitamin can affect optimal functioning of organ systems throughout the body.


Life Extension magazine

December 2006 issue now online!

On the cover


The migraine cure, by Sergey A. Dzugan, MD, PhD



Promoting stomach health naturally:  A Japanese solution to stomach ulcers, by Laurie Barclay, MD


The deadly connection between diabetes and Alzheimer's, by Edward R. Rosick, DO, MPH, DABHM


Vitamin C and dihydroquercetin:  Creating a more potent vitamin C, by Mark J. Neveu, PhD


Late-breaking news and more on the Life Extension website: Visiting the improved Life Extension website gives you access to fast-breaking information you’ll find nowhere else—information that could literally save your life, by Dave Tuttle

As we see it


Stem cell therapy in a pill? By William Faloon

In the news


Low testosterone increases mortality in older men, DHEA may delay HIV disease progression, Milk thistle compound suppresses prostate cancer, plus more...

Ask the doctor


Natural strategies for managing insomnia, by Dr. Sergey A. Dzugan

All about supplements


Zinc: An indispensable element that boosts the body’s natural defenses, by Dale Kiefer

Wellness profile


Director Darren Aronofsky: A new film ponders the "Fountain of Youth,” by Philip Smith

December 2006 abstracts


Zinc, carnosine, Alzheimer’s-diabetes, dihydroquercetin


If you have questions or comments concerning this issue or past issues of Life Extension Update, send them to ddye@lifeextension.com or call 954 202 7716.

For longer life,

Dayna Dye
Editor, Life Extension Update
954 766 8433 extension 7716

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