For the current study, 2,919 people with an average age of 74 took either a tablet folic acid and of vitamin B12, or a placebo, every day for two years. Tests of memory and thinking skills were performed at the beginning and end of the study. All of the participants had high blood levels of homocysteine – an amino acid – high levels of which are linked to the risk of developing dementia.
Dr Doug Brown, Director of Research at Alzheimer’ Society said:
‘There is conflicting evidence for whether Vitamin B improves memory and thinking so it’s good to see further clinical trials are being conducted in this area. We know levels of homocysteine, a protein linked to an increased risk of dementia, tend to increase with age. This might be because we are less able to absorb B vitamins from our diet as we get older. However, it is not a quick fix to take supplements.
This trial adds to a growing weight of evidence that vitamin B levels do not improve memory and thinking. More trials are needed to determine if there is a benefit of these vitamins for people already with dementia, or for people without high levels of homocysteine, as no one in this trail had dementia or was known to develop it. The best way to reduce the risk of dementia is to take plenty of exercise, eat healthily, properly regulate other health conditions, stop smoking and don’t drink over recommended limits.’
Research reference: Dhonukshe-Rutten, Rosalie A.M. et al, Results of 2-year vitamin B treatment on, cognitive performance. Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology Wednesday 12 November 2014.