B Vitamins for a healthy brain.

Posted by Mark Hamilton on

Vitamins to help with Brain Health


B Vitamins for Brain Health

The human brain is the most complex known structure in the universe. This is reflective of its role as the central organ of the nervous system and its connection to every part of the human body via a complex system of nervous connections. At 70% fat in composition the brain is at risk of oxidative damage and neurotoxins if dietary antioxidant enzyme precursors, cofactors and antioxidant nutrients are lowered. Sometimes all we need is the right Vitamins and minerals.

The B vitamin family comprises of 8 water soluble vitamins that perform essential roles in cellular functioning. They act as cofactors to catalyse the activity of enzyme functions. Several B vitamins are considered essential for normal brain function. Choline is a structural component of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that is responsible for initiating memory, knowledge acquisition, recall and problem solving- knowledge application. B2, B6, B12 and folate (B9) are necessary for the metabolism of homocysteine and normal methylation, this is a process that occurs in every cell of the body including those of the brain. In addition, the B family play a role in the synthesis of hormones, neurotransmitters and signaling molecules plus energy production, each of which are essential functions that contribute to brain function. 

To investigate the role of vitamins B3, B6, B12 and folate in cognitive function, the diet of a community-based cohort of participants aged 18-30 years was assessed and compared to measurements of cognitive function. The highest intake of B3 was associated with greater psychomotor speed and executive function. Folate, B6 and B12 were also associated with greater executive function. 39

In a group of mild cognitive impairment elderly patients were given 800 mcg folic acid, 500 mcg B12, and 20 mg B6 or placebo for 24 months during which homocysteine levels and brain atrophy were measured. The accelerated rate of brain atrophy was slowed in the intervention group when compared to the placebo group. These results were considered to be related to the lowered homocysteine levels. A 6-year observational study that collected routine blood analyses and cognitive screening scores of patients aged 60 years or older reported that a higher folate concentration was associated with better cognitive performances. Estimated mini mental state examination means for folate versus homocysteine showed that folate deficiency was associated with worse cognitive performances and a greater severity of cognitive impairment when hyper homocysteinemia was present.

Dietary choline and the risk of incident dementia with cognitive performance was investigated in middle aged and older men enrolled in the Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study. Those with the greatest choline intake as compared to those with the lowest had a 28% lower risk of incident dementia and were associated with better performance in cognitive tests. Similarly, in the Framingham Offspring community-based population of non-demented individuals a higher concurrent choline intake was associated with better cognitive performance.

So when I am asked, which I often am, “is it important to take a good quality multivitamin complex?” my answer is always yes.

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