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Vitamin B12 and folic acid improve memory in two year trial

Vitamin B12 and folic acid improve memory in two year trial

Tuesday, December 27, 2011. The January, 2012 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published the results of an analysis of a randomized, controlled trial conducted by Australian researchers which found that supplementation with folic acid and vitamin B12 improved immediate and delayed memory in older men and women.

The current study analyzed data from a trial of 900 participants with elevated psychological distress between the ages 60 to 74 who received 400 micrograms folic acid plus 100 micrograms vitamin B12, or a placebo for two years. The original trial was designed to analyze the effect of the supplements and other factors on depressive symptoms. (Late life depression is a risk factor for cognitive impairment.) Cognitive function was assessed at the beginning of the study and at 12 and 24 months.

While orientation, attention, verbal memory and processing speed remained unchanged, greater improvements from baseline in immediate and delayed recall scores were observed among those who received vitamin B12 and folic acid compared with the placebo group. Plasma homocysteine, an amino acid that, when elevated, is associated with a greater risk of cardiovascular events, increased by an average of 8.33 percent among those who received the B vitamins, and by 22.45 percent among those who received the placebo. Having a high homocysteine level at the beginning of the study was associated with reduced cognitive performance at 24 months, as were higher depression scores.

"The significant effect of folic acid plus vitamin B12 supplementation occurred in the later stage of the intervention, i.e., at 24 months," Janine G. Walker and colleagues write. "It is possible that the effects of folic acid plus vitamin B12 supplementation are long term and operate by reducing vascular and other metabolic risk factors for cognitive impairment."

"The prospect of using dietary supplements of folic acid and vitamin B12 to prevent cognitive decline appears promising," they conclude. "More studies are needed to determine whether the benefits of folic acid and vitamin B12 supplementation found in this trial could be replicated in other populations of older adults with increased risk of developing significant cognitive impairment."

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Acetyl-L-carnitine reduces Alzheimer's-like changes associated with elevated homocysteine

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An article published online on October 6, 2011 in the journal Rejuvenation Research describes a role for supplementation with acetyl-L-carnitine (ALC) in reducing the effects of high levels of homocysteine that are associated with some of the features of Alzheimer's disease.

In their introduction to the article, Peng Zhou and colleagues at Huazhong University of Science and Technology in China remark that Alzheimer's disease-like changes including cognitive dysfunction, disrupted blood-brain barrier integrity, increased amyloid-beta levels and tau hyperphosphorylation have been observed in mice in which elevated homocysteine levels were induced. Studies have shown that acetyl-L-carnitine reduces some of the cognitive impairment and functional degeneration found in humans with Alzheimer's disease. While in vitro experiments have suggested that acetyl-L-carnitine can reduce amyloid beta neurotoxicity, it had not previously been known whether the amino acid would have a beneficial effect in an animal model.

For the current experiment, 40 rats received water maze training prior to injection with homocysteine or saline for 14 days. Half of the animals in each group were given drinking water supplemented with acetyl-L-carnitine for the two week treatment period. Water maze tests were conducted before and after treatment to assess cognitive function.

Among homocysteine-treated rats that received acetyl-L-carnitine, memory deficits, tau hyperphosphorylation and amyloid beta accumulation were reduced in comparison with animals that did not receive the amino acid. The team additionally found that supplementing with ALC suppressed amyloid beta precursor protein phosphorylation, which is a possible mechanism for the reduction of amyloid beta observed in the study.

"We found that supplement of ALC by drinking water for two weeks could effectively reverse the homocysteine-induced tau protein hyperphosphorylation, amyloid beta accumulation, and memory deficits in rats," the authors conclude. "Our data suggest that ALC may serve as a promising candidate for Alzheimer's disease therapy."

Life Extension Magazine® January, 2012 interactive version now live

Life Extension Magazine® January, 2012 interactive version now live

This e-issue of Life Extension Magazine® is extraordinarily easy to use, easy to navigate … with the same flip-the-page feeling you get from your printed copy, plus a few extra advantages. You can choose to search out a topic or keyword. Skim quickly. Skip ahead. Even order products. Now all that convenience is right at your fingertips.

Discovering coffee's unique health benefits, by Michael Downey
Here we describe the mechanisms of action behind coffee's extraordinary effects and why most coffee drinkers are not obtaining its multiple benefits.

Nutrients to combat the modern stress epidemic, by Jeffrey Castle
New confirmatory data show that nutritional interventions can favorably target the physiological factors that cause stress-related problems.

Halt sugar-induced cell aging, by Kara Michaels
A fat-soluble form of vitamin B1 called benfotiamine acts via multiple pathways to block the glycation process and protect eyesight, heart health, kidney function, and more.

Novel method to effectively combat oxidative liver damage, by Kirk Stokel
A synergistic combination of the adaptogen Schisandra chinensis and a patented extract of the melon Cucumis melo has been shown to offer unique protection against the mitochondrial oxidant damage that triggers NAFLD.

Using hormones to heal traumatic brain injury, by Joseph Carrington
Pioneering specialist Dr. Mark L. Gordon explains how his work with wounded soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan led to a novel, highly effective approach that may heal traumatic brain injury using individually tailored hormone therapy.

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Life Extension Update What's Hot
Poor vitamin B12 status impacts brain volume and function Optimal levels of folate and vitamin B12 needed for maintaining cognitive function
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