One in 5 people older than 70, is suffering from cognitive impairment which will progress to dementia and later in death, in half of the people in 5 years. That is why we need to try to prevent these issues. Numerous cases of Alzheimer’s disease can be prevented by controlling the risk factors. It was found by a Harvard pathologist 2 cases of children whose brains had turned to mush. These children suffered rare genetic mutations which caused increased homocysteine levels in the body.
The homocysteine is a strong risk factor for the dementia development and Alzheimer’s as well. It was found by the Framingham study that 1 in 6 cases of Alzheimer’s disease patients may be caused used by the increased levels of homocysteine. Our bodies need 3 vitamins to detoxify the homocysteine, vitamin B6, B12 and folate.
Initially, studies gave no successful results. One double-blind randomized controlled trial showed that the reduction of homocysteine with the help of B vitamins can slow the rate of accelerated brain atrophy in patients with mild cognitive impairment.
The brain experiences atrophy over the years, but it is accelerated in Alzheimer’s patients, and its rate is intermediate in the case of mild cognitive impairment.
Therefore, if we could slow down this rate of brain loss, we could possibly prevent the worsening of Alzheimer’s symptoms.
People who received B vitamins for two years significantly slowed the rate of brain shrinkage, and it was cut in half in people with high homocysteine levels.
Research has shown that B-vitamin treatment reduces, by as much as seven-fold, the brain atrophy in the areas specifically prone to the Alzheimer’s disease process.
- Most people get sufficient amounts of B12 and B6, but they lack folate, which is found concentrated in greens and beans. Thus, studies have shown that the consumption of a diet rich in plants, can reduce homocysteine levels by 20% in just one week.
Researchers believe this is mostly due to the high fiber content, as every gram of daily fiber consumption elevates folate levels in the blood by 2%, by reducing the intake of methionine and boosting vitamin production in the colon.
Methionine is actually a breakdown product of methionine, mostly found in animal protein, so its limited intake might regulate homocysteine levels.
On the other hand, people who follow plant-based diets long-term have terrible homocysteine levels. This is a result of the insufficient intake of vitamin B12, even though they get enough folate and fiber.
- In addition, vegans have a high risk for hyperhomocysteinaemia (too high levels of homocysteine in the blood) as a result of the decreased intake of fortified foods rich in vitamin B12. Moreover, if they take sufficient amounts of vitamin B12, they will be able to prevent brain loss.
The sources of B vitamins include legumes, green leafy vegetables, fruits, fish, eggs, poultry, carrots, bananas, peas, spinach and potatoes. B12 can be also found in animal products, such as fish, meat, eggs, poultry, eggs and dairy products.
Therefore, it is utter importance to maintain a balance of these essential vitamins in order to be able to support the function of the brain and prevent brain loss.