Higher B vitamin intake associated with better cognitive function in impaired individuals

Higher B vitamin intake associated with better cognitive function in impaired individuals

Life Extension Update

Tuesday, January 6, 2015. In an article published on December 17, 2014 in Nutrition Journal, Korean researchers report a beneficial effect for increased B vitamin intake on cognitive function in individuals with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and Alzheimer's disease.

The study included 100 men and women with mild cognitive impairment, 100 Alzheimer's disease patients and 121 cognitively normal individuals aged 60 years and older. Participants completed eight tests of cognitive function, including MMSE-KC, Boston Naming Test, Verbal Fluency, Word List Memory, Word List Recall, Word List Recognition, Constructional Recall and Constructional Praxis. Interview responses provided data concerning dietary intake from food and supplements the day prior to blood analysis of B vitamin and homocysteine levels.

Higher total intake of vitamins B2, B6, B12 and folate was associated with lower plasma homocysteine levels. When intake from diet alone among all subjects was examined, increased consumption of vitamin B2 was associated with improvement in Constructional Recall Test scores, and those whose vitamin B6 intake levels were greater had better Boston Naming Test and Word List Memory scores. Higher folate intake was associated with better Word List Memory and Constructional Recall scores.

Analysis of total intake of B vitamins from diet and supplements revealed improvement in MMSE-KC and Boston Naming Test scores in association with increased vitamin B2 intake, better Boston Naming Test scores in association with total vitamin B6 intake, and improvement in three of the eight test scores in association with increased folic acid intake. When Alzheimer's disease patients were examined, greater total intake of vitamins B2, B6, B12 and folic acid were individually associated with numerous improved scores. Those with mild cognitive impairment also experienced better test scores in association with vitamins B2, B6 and folate, although the number of tests that showed improvements was fewer than that of the Alzheimer's disease group. Among those with normal function, no associations between test scores and any of the dietary parameters examined were observed.

"To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study investigating the relationship between cognitive function scores and dietary intake by cognitive status," Namsoo Chang of Ewha Womans University in Seoul and colleagues announce.

They note that previous research has confirmed a correlation between lower homocysteine levels and increased B vitamin intake. "Folate, vitamin B2, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12 are involved in one-carbon transfer reactions such as methylation, which is necessary for the production of monoamine neurotransmitters, phospholipids and nucleotides in the brain," they write. "Low levels of these B vitamins have been associated with increased homocysteine, known to have a direct neurotoxic effect."

"These results suggested that total B vitamins intake is associated with cognitive function in cognitively impaired Alzheimer's disease and MCI elderly, and the association is stronger in Alzheimer's disease patients," they conclude.

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Homocysteine linked with diminished cognitive function in older men and women
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An article published online on August 5, 2013 in the Journal of Affective Disorders reports an association between higher levels of plasma homocysteine and an increased risk of cognitive impairment in older adults.

Researchers from the University of Western Australia and Royal Perth Hospital recruited 358 individuals aged 50 and older with depressive symptoms, among whom 70% met the criteria for major depression. Fasting blood samples were analyzed for total plasma homocysteine, serum vitamin B12 and red blood cell folate levels. Cognitive tests administered included the Mini-mental state examination and tests of verbal fluency, naming, word list immediate recall, word list delayed recall and drawing (visual) recall.

Seventy-one participants had high homocysteine levels, defined in this study as 13 micromoles per liter or more. In subjects with and without major depression, those with higher homocysteine levels had lower median folate and vitamin B12 levels. "The results of this cross-sectional study show that in this sample of older adults, elevated total homocysteine was associated with weaker performance in tests of immediate and delayed memory and global cognitive performance when compared to those with normal total homocysteine," authors Andrew H. Ford and his colleagues report.

"The finding that high total homocysteine is associated with cognitive inefficiency in later life independent of depressive status has potential public health implications," they note. "Homocysteine can be reliably lowered by around 25% by daily supplementation with vitamin B12 and folic acid, making it a potential modifiable risk factor for cognitive impairment in depressed older adults."

"Homocysteine lowering B-vitamin supplementation may offer a potential therapeutic target to try and mitigate the often-disabling impact of cognitive deficits found in this population," they conclude.

Life Extension Clinical Research Update

Coffee in cognitive, metabolic and immune health
South Florida location

Study Objective:
Assess the effectiveness and safety of daily consumption of coffee on cognitive, metabolic and immune health in male and female participants over the course of 60 days who initially report subjective memory complaints.

To Qualify:

  • You must be between 50 and 70 years of age
  • Be overweight (BMI of 25 - 35)
  • Overall healthy
  • Interested in consuming 3 cups of coffee daily (and currently not consuming more than 1 cup daily)
  • Able to comply with all study procedures and visits

Your Involvement:

  • You will attend 5 visits over 60 days.
  • You will receive the study product (organic coffee) to be studied, supplies, clinical evaluations, cognitive evaluations and blood tests

Register For This Study
Or call 1-866-517-4536


  • Study product (organic coffee) and supplies (e.g., French press and thermos)
  • Blood tests (including specific immune markers associated with cognitive health)
  • Clinical evaluations
  • Up to $200 for time and travel expenses
  • $100 gift card toward purchases from the Life Extension Foundation Buyers Club
  • Referral bonus available: $50*

*If you refer someone who enrolls in a study and completes their final visit with closeout procedures, you will be compensated the amount noted for the study.

Health Concern

Homocysteine reduction

All homocysteine in the body is biosynthesized from methionine, an essential amino acid found abundantly in meats, seafood, dairy products, and eggs. Vegetables, with few exceptions (e.g., sesame seeds and Brazil nuts), are low in methionine; even such protein-rich legumes as beans, peas, and lentils contain relatively small amounts of methionine compared to animal-derived foods.

Homocysteine exists in several forms (Jacobsen 1998); the sum of all homocysteine forms is termed "total homocysteine." Protein-rich diets contain ample amounts of methionine and consequently produce significant levels of homocysteine in the body (Verhoef 2005). Homocysteine is metabolized through two pathways: remethylation and transsulfuration. Remethylation requires folate and B12 coenzymes; transsulfuration requires pyridoxal-5'-phosphate, the B6 coenzyme (Selhub 1999a).

Active folate, known as 5-MTHF or 5-methyltetrahydrofolate, works in concert with vitamin B12 as a methyl-group donor in the conversion of homocysteine back to methionine.

Normally, about 50% of homocysteine is remethylated; the remaining homocysteine is transsulfurated to cysteine, which requires vitamin B6 as a co-factor.

Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) and magnesium are also involved in homocysteine metabolism. Thus a person needs several different B-vitamins to help keep homocysteine levels low and allow for it to be properly transformed into helpful antioxidants like glutathione. Without B6, B12, B2, folate, and magnesium, dangerous levels of homocysteine may build up in the body.

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