B Vitamins Reduces Brain Shrinkage and Prevents Memory Loss Print Write e-mail
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Alzheimers - Alzheimers 2010
Written by Frank Mangano   
Friday, 01 October 2010 03:26

Understanding Alzheimer’s Disease

Senile Dementia of the Alzheimer Type or simply Alzheimer’s disease is one of the most common forms of dementia. It is a terminal and degenerative disease that currently has no cure. The disease was first described by Lois Alzheimer, a German neuropathologist and physiatrist.

The condition is commonly diagnosed in individuals aged 65 years old and above. However, the onset of the disease can develop even before the senile years.

There are over 26 million patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease worldwide and it is predicted to affect 1 out of 85 people at a global level by 2050. A patient may experience a different set of symptoms from another but there are several common symptoms that are detected in most patients. At an early stage, patients are observed to fail to keep new memories and are incapable of recalling recent events and observed facts. Cognitive tests and behavioral assessments are used to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease. Through years of development, patients experience long-term memory loss, difficulty to verbally communicate, mood swings, confusion, aggression and irritability, confusion and withdrawal from society.

Medical science is limited to the further development of the disease and there is no known cure to make the patient recover memory and lost cognitive skills. Researchers have associated the disease to tangles and plaques in the brain. Studies also show that lifestyle intervention may be efficient in offsetting the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Medical experts suggest for patients to have frequent exercise and a balanced diet to help prevent the disease from progressing to a worse stage. Mental stimulation is also being used to help patients improve their cognitive skills and regain any lost memory. Disease management is important in the care of patients since Alzheimer’s disease is degenerative and incurable.

B Vitamins Against Brain Shrinkage

A group of British researchers examined the effects of B Vitamins in the prevention of the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. According to their study, increased dosage of Vitamin B is potent in the reduction of brain shrinkage which is the common cause of Alzheimer’s disease. The best results of the study recorded a 50 percent brain shrinkage reduction. This serves as an indication that B Vitamins can be effective in the delaying, if not totally preventing the development of, the degenerative disease. Their research will be followed by a longer study in the aims of obtaining more concrete evidence. Previous studies dedicated to the discovery of a cure or a method to prevent Alzheimer’s disease all ended in vain. Meanwhile, the promising results of the British study are receiving a well-deserved commendation.

The research was led by Dr. David Smith of the University of Oxford. He and his team of researchers recruited 168 participants suffering from mild cognitive impairments including language problems, memory loss, and other mental challenges.  About 16 percent of people aged 70 and above suffer from impaired cognitive skills and around 50 percent of the group developed Alzheimer’s disease.

The study was aimed at the effects of high levels of the amino acid homocysteine in the blood in the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Homocysteine levels are known to be reduced by high levels of B vitamins. Half of the participants received doses of Triobe Plus, a Swedish vitamin, and the other half with dummy pills. The prescription drug contains 0.08 milligrams of folic acid, 20 milligrams of pyridoxine hydrochloride, and 0.5 milligrams of cyanocobalamin. It contains 300 times the recommended dosage of B vitamins. Due to the high levels of B vitamins, the method is considered to be more like a drug intervention than a supplement.

In order to measure the efficacy of the method, patients were put under magnetic resonance imaging or MRI to measure the volume of the brain. At a normal circumstance, the human brain experiences a 0.5 percent shrinkage per year. Participants who received the placebo experienced a 1.08 percent shrinkage while the participants who received the B vitamin intervention only had a .76 percent shrinkage.

The researchers described the results of their study as dramatic and beyond what they had expected. But Smith warned the public from the adverse effects of unsupervised intake of high levels of B vitamins.

Methods of Preventing Alzheimer’s Disease

There are no medically proven methods of preventing Alzheimer’s disease. Anybody can still be a winner in finding methods for preventing or for treating Alzheimer’s disease.  Researchers and medical experts are still far from finding a concrete solution. But medical professionals will advise lifestyle intervention especially for individuals who have higher risks of developing the disease. This involves modification of diet and performing more exercises. Different habits and types of lifestyle are known to be a precursor for the development of Alzheimer’s disease. So a practical approach is to avoid them.

  • It has been identified that smokers with the age of 65 and above have an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by 79 percent.
  • People who are overweight during the middle years also have more than 3 times the likelihood of getting the disease.
  • Excessive and unmanaged stress is also to be blamed.
  • Other precursors are diabetes, genetic make-up and chronic stress.

Methods with sufficient medical support are limited to the delay of the development of Alzheimer’s disease but some are still strongly believed to prevent the outcome of the chronic disease. Brain degeneration is thought to be the cause of dementia, and an unhealthy diet and sedentary lifestyle aggravate brain degeneration. Despite being considered as a disease of senility, scientists have observed that neurological changes that may result to Alzheimer’s disease can happen at an early stage, as early as the age of 20.

There are over 90 drugs being tested to treat and prevent the development of Alzheimer’s disease. People who experience even the slightest memory loss but with noticeable frequency are recommended to seek diagnosis. Though drugs used for patients with Alzheimer’s disease cannot reverse the damage caused by the disease to the brain, early use of the drugs may prevent the disease to worsen. The efficacy of the drugs may also depend on the stage where it was first taken.  In this case - the earlier, the better.





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