Protecting Ourselves Against Dementia

A recent international report has calculated the global economic cost of dementia to be $604 billion. This figure amounts to an astonishing 1% of our entire global GDP. What is more, it is expected to rise. Aging populations such as Japan and Western democracies are now facing a growing crisis that has economic, medical and above all human implications, since dementia and Alzheimer’s can disturb entire families, with domino effects on extended social and workplace relationships.

But wait, there is some good news on the horizon. The recent publication in PLOS1, The Publication of Peer Reviewed Science, of a two-year double blind trial carried out by researchers from the University of Oxford, the Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals NHS Trust and the University of Oslo in Norway concludes that supplementation with three forms of Vitamin B will sharply reduce brain atrophy and associated cognitive impairment. The study compared the use of high dose vitamin B supplements over a period of 24 months with an inactive placebo in 271 people over 70 with slight memory problems. The study used MRI analysis to determine that those given vitamin B developed brain shrinkage at a rate 30% slower than those given placebo.

Brain atrophy means that your brain is actually growing smaller: shrinking, or drying up. Structurally, this correlates with loss, or death of neurons or brain cells, and destruction of their dendritic filaments. Dendrites provide lateral inter-connections between brain cells, and are required for cognitive and emotional processing. When this decline has crossed a certain threshold, dementia sets in. When a further threshold has been crossed, Alzheimer’s occurs.

The Oxford and Oslo study demonstrates that we can protect ourselves – and the aging population – against onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s by judicious supplementation with folic acid, B6 (pyrodixine) and B12. High level intake of these vitamins protects our brain cells against the destructive influence of homocysteine circulating in the blood, and also down-regulates the levels of this toxic amino acid. (Homocysteine is actually a naturally occurring amino acid produced within the body, and it only becomes dangerous to our health when it reaches high levels due to imbalances within our metabolism.)

In brief, we now have peer reviewed scientific research to prove the benefits of B vitamins for longevity, quality of life and brain health. The protocol could be further enhanced by using three different forms of folic acid (which also protects babies against birth defects), and methylated B12. If further supplements are added into this protocol, the chances of avoiding dementia and Alzheimer’s rise even higher. Some of these other protective supplements include: Omega 3 oils and Evening Primrose Oil; blood viscosity reducing herbs to facilitate blood flow to the brain and increase removal of waste materials; also the plant derived phospholipid, Phosphatidylserine, which enhances acetylcholine activity, and therefore improves memory and cognitive functioning; and last but not least turmeric and gingko, outstanding herbs from the Ayurvedic pharmacopoeia that have strong protective effects on brain health and neuron preservation.