Orthomolecular Nutrition and Dementia
Reuters news service has reported that a study at Oxford University has determined that orthomolecular doses of B vitamins can cut in half the rate of brain srinkage in older people with memory problems. Scientists from Oxford University said their two-year clinical trial was the largest to date into the effect of B vitamins on so-called “mild cognitive impairment” – a major risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.
“This is a very dramatic and striking result. It’s much more than we could have predicted,” said David Smith of Oxford’s department of pharmacology, who co-led the trial.
“It is our hope that this simple and safe treatment will delay development of Alzheimer’s in many people who suffer from mild memory problems.”
Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) affects around 16 percent of people aged over 70 worldwide and is characterized by slight problems with memory loss, language or other mental functions.
The pills used during the study contained around 300 times the recommended daily intake of B12, four times daily advised folate levels and 15 times the recommended amount of B6.
These “mega-doses” of vitamins are similar to what Dr. Linus Pauling termed “orthomolecular nutrition” with regard to massive does of vitamin C for prevention of heart problems.
Smith and his colleagues conducted a two-year trial with 168 volunteers with MCI who were given either a vitamin pill containing very high doses of folic acid, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12, or a placebo dummy pill.
These B vitamins are known to control levels of an amino acid called homocysteine in the blood, and high blood levels of homocysteine are linked to an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
While further study is needed, this is a promising development in orthomolecular nutrition.