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B Vitamins Are Important for the Prevention of Cognitive Decline

Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola Fact Checked

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  • B vitamin deficiencies are known to produce symptoms of psychiatric disorders, from depression to schizophrenia, and play an important role in cognitive decline and the development dementia
  • Vitamins B6, B9 (folate) and B12 may help prevent cognitive decline and protect against more serious dementia such as Alzheimer's disease
  • A primary mechanism of action is the suppression of homocysteine, which tends to be elevated when you have brain degeneration. Having a homocysteine level above 14 micromoles per liter is associated with a doubled risk of Alzheimer’s
  • Research has shown taking high doses of folic acid, B6 and B12 lowers blood levels of homocysteine, decreasing brain shrinkage by as much as 90 percent
  • B vitamins also have a direct impact on the methylation cycle, and are required for the production and function of neurotransmitters, and for the maintenance of myelin, all of which are important for cognitive health

It should come as no surprise that nutrition is a foundational consideration to optimize and maintain cognitive function. It's well-established that healthy fats such as animal-based omega-3s — especially DHA — are vitally important for brain health, but certain vitamins are also important, and a number of vitamin deficiencies have been linked to impaired cognition, neurological diseases and mental disorders.

Among the most important vitamins for brain health are vitamins B3 (niacin), B6 and B12. For example, two clinical manifestations of pellagra — a condition caused by niacin deficiency — are delirium and dementia. Schizophrenia also shares some of the features of pellagra.

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