Elderly people could stave off Alzheimer's disease by taking Vitamin B supplements because they reduce brain shrinkage associated with the disease by up to 90 per cent, a study suggests.
Consuming vitamins B6, B12 and folic acid can lower levels of homocysteine, an amino acid linked to shrinkage of the brain in conditions like Alzheimer's disease.
Previous studies had shown that patients with mild cognitive impairment, a precursor to Alzheimer's, suffered 50 per cent less brain shrinkage overall if they took vitamin B supplements.
But the new study of 156 patients, by researchers from Oxford University, found that the shrinkage was in fact reduced by 90 per cent in particular areas of the brain which are most vulnerable in Alzheimer's patients.
The findings, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal, suggest that the vitamins could be even more protective than previously realised.
Dr. David Smith, who led the study, said: "Our work shows that a key part of the disease process that leads to Alzheimer’s disease, the atrophy of specific brain regions, might be modified by a safe and simple intervention."