Joseph Mercola, MD published an article on March 17, 2016 discussing the effects of certain B vitamins in improving brain functions and helping slow or stop dementia in many people. The title of the article is “The Importance of B Vitamins for Brain Health and Combating Dementia.” The specific B vitamins are B6, B9 and B12. When combined with the omega-3 oils, there was a 40% reduction in brain atrophy.
Eastern medicine combines herbs, seeds and fermented foods to treat numerous illnesses. A two year study done in Korea saw significant reductions in loss of brain functions and improvement in depression from the combination of high doses of vitamins B6, B9 (folate) and B12 along with oils rich in omega-3 components. There have been multiple studies that compared results of use of these B vitamins with omega-3 oils versus placebo. MRI scans of brain tissue showed reduction in brain atrophy in the specific regions associated with Alzheimer’s disease. The studies have shown the importance of the B vitamins being combined in a diet rich in omega-3 oils. These omega-3 oils come from animal sources.
As people age, there is a buildup of homocysteine in the blood. High homocysteine levels have been identified specifically with brain atrophy. The B vitamin – omega-3 oil combination has proven to convert homocysteine into methionine, which is a building block for healthy protein formation. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in July 2015 had the following conclusions.
There was a significant interaction between B vitamin treatment and plasma combined omega-3 fatty acids (eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid) on brain atrophy rates.
In subjects with high baseline omega-3 fatty acids (>590 μmol/L), B vitamin treatment slowed the mean atrophy rate by 40 percent compared with placebo.
The food sources for omega-3 oils and the B vitamins include the following foods.
- Sardines, wild caught salmon, anchovies, and grass-fed beef are high in omega-3 oils. Krill oil, cod liver oil and skate liver oil are good supplements.
- B6 is available from red meat, wild caught salmon, some tree nuts, and sunflower seeds. Nutritional yeast can provide a vegan supplement for B6.
- Folate (B9) is available from green vegetables and a variety of beans. Folate can be supplied as a supplement. Folic acid is the synthetic form of folate, but is often not readily available to the body if a specific enzyme is missing.
- Vitamin B12 is primarily from meat and some sea food. Eggs, shrimp and dairy products contain B12 vitamins in different levels.
- Healthy gut bacteria produces the B vitamins. Sugar inhibits B vitamin production. Fermented foods increase vitamin production.
- Vitamin C is also required for health brain function. Vitamin C is available in citrus fruits, green vegetables, and sweet potatoes. Fermented cabbage contains 6 times the concentration of vitamin C as fresh cabbage.
- Vitamin D is produced by the body when exposed to sunlight. Dairy products are often supplemented with vitamin D, but other supplements are required for good adsorption such as K2 and magnesium. Fermented cod liver and fermented skate liver oils are high in vitamin D.
Besides diet, stress management such as meditation, vigorous exercise and active utilization of cognitive brain functions are all shown to improve brain health and maintain higher brain functions. The woman pictured in this article, Marcena Coate, lived in her own apartment until she was 99. She wrote e-mails and interacted on the computer daily. Good genes are a factor in higher brain function. While dementia is often age related, those that follow a healthy regimen of the factors listed in this paragraph often maintain brain health 20 or more years beyond normal experiences. Striving for longevity makes more sense when your mind is functioning well.