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Study assesses dementia risk reduction through intake of B-vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids


A study on mild cognitive impairment (MCI) emphasized the importance of nutrient-nutrient interaction in preventing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease (AD). According to its findings, MCI progression can be reduced through treatment with B-vitamins, but success depends on good levels of omega-3 fatty acids.

The study was published in the Journal of Nutrition & Intermediary Metabolism.

  • Poor nutrition is one of the driving factors of dementia and AD. Risk factors include low levels of B-vitamins (evidenced by high levels of plasma homocysteine) and low status of omega-3 fatty acids.
  • The study involved 270 elderly people suffering from MCI, an intermediate stage between normal cognitive decline associated with old age and the more severe decline of dementia.
  • Participants in one group were given large doses of the B-vitamins folic acid, B6, and B12 for a period of two years. Another group served as control and received a placebo. Researchers measured baseline plasma omega-3 fatty acids for members of both groups to see if the levels influenced the effects of the B-vitamins.
  • Treatment with B-vitamins was shown to reduce the rate of brain atrophy in participants with high levels of homocysteine. The reduction was pronounced in brain regions susceptible to the effects of AD. The supplements also reduced the rate of cognitive and clinical decline.
  • Participants with good levels of omega-3 fatty acids displayed enhanced protective effects from B-vitamin treatment. Conversely, patients with low amounts of omega-3 fatty acids in their bodies did not demonstrate those benefits.

The researcher recommended an additional trial that would determine if administering a combination of B-vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids to MCI patients can prevent the condition’s transition into more severe forms of dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease.

Journal Reference:

Smith A. TWO NUTRIENTS ARE BETTER THAN ONE: B-VITAMINS AND OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS IN THE PREVENTION OF DEMENTIA. Journal of Nutrition & Intermediary Metabolism. June 2017;8:66. DOI: 10.1016/j.jnim.2017.04.018

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