Cognitive strength throughout life is intricately tied to how well blood circulates throughout the body, including in the brain. That’s why B vitamins are even more important than many people may realize.
This study examined the blood levels of B vitamins and cognitive function in elderly individuals in Korea. 100 adults with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), 100 with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and 121 with no impairments were included in the study group. Dietary and supplement usage was recorded, and folate and B12 concentrations were analyzed as well.
B vitamin intake is critical for energy and metabolism, but also for the function of the brain, because it reduces levels of homocysteine that can lead to arterial blockage and cognitive impairment. In this Korean clinical study, B vitamin intake was associated with a positive correlation for a variety of cognitive tests in individuals with already-diagnosed mild cognitive impairment or Alzheimer’s Disease. Interestingly, for older individuals with no impairment, there was no noted difference in this study. That doesn’t mean you should ignore your B vitamin intake – it simply shows that for those with a noted decline, B vitamins made a marked difference, in large part due to deficiencies in the diet.
While this was the first such study in Korea, past research has shown folic acid, B12, and B6 have improved mental function. In this study, a variety of B vitamins showed benefits, but overall B6, in the words of the researchers, “was associated with the greatest number of cognitive function indicators.”
One way to ensure that you have enough B vitamins, is to get effective forms of B vitamins in your regimen. This includes the pyridoxal-5-phosphate form of vitamin B6 and the methylcobalamin form of vitamin B12, along with folate as methylfolate rather than folic acid. These forms of B vitamins are readily used by the body because they require no conversion by the liver and as such, are more efficient choices to bolster cognitive strength.
Kim H, Kim G, Jang W, Kim SY, Chang N. Association between intake of B vitamins and cognitive function in elderly Koreans with cognitive impairment. Nutr J. 2014 Dec 17;13(1):118.
BACKGROUND: It is possible that blood B vitamins level and cognitive function may be affected by dietary intake of these vitamins, no study however has yet been conducted on relationships between B vitamins intake and cognitive function among elderly population in Korea. This study examined the relationship between B vitamins intake and cognitive function among elderly in South Korea.
METHODS: Participants consisted of 100 adults with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), 100 with Alzheimer’s disease (AD), and 121 normal subjects. Dietary intake data that included the use of dietary supplements were obtained using a 24-hour recall method by well-trained interviewers. Plasma folate and vitamin B12 concentrations were analyzed by radioimmunoassay, and homocysteine (Hcy) was assessed by a high performance liquid chromatography-fluorescence method.
RESULTS: Plasma levels of folate and vitamin B12 were positively correlated with B vitamins intake; and plasma Hcy was negatively correlated with total intake of vitamin B2, vitamin B6, vitamin B12 and folate. In the AD group, a multiple regression analysis after adjusting for covariates revealed positive relationships between vitamin B2 intake and test scores for the MMSE-KC, Boston Naming, Word Fluency, Word List Memory and Constructional Recall Tests; and between vitamin B6 intake and the MMSE-KC, Boston Naming, Word Fluency, Word List Memory, Word List Recognition, Constructional Recall and Constructional Praxis Tests. Positive associations were observed between vitamin B12 intake and the MMSE-KC, Boston Naming, Constructional Recall and Constructional Praxis Tests, and between folate intake and the Constructional Recall Test. In the MCI group, vitamin B2 intake was positively associated with the MMSE-KC and Boston Naming Test, vitamin B6 intake was positively associated with the Boston Naming Test, and folate intake was positively associated with the MMSE-KC and Word List Memory test. No associations were observed in the normal group.
CONCLUSION: These results suggested that total B vitamins intake is associated with cognitive function in cognitively impaired AD and MCI elderly, and the association is stronger in AD patients.