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Inadequate B-Vitamin Intake Accelerates Brain Aging

As reported in the prestigious medical journal JAMA Psychiatry, individuals low in B6, B12 or folate run a higher risk of elevated levels of the amino acid homocysteine, which directly correlates to loss of brain tissue volume during the aging process.

The researchers studied 501 subjects aged 60 years and older, who did NOT have dementia (memory loss) at the beginning of the study. Among these, 299 test subjects underwent routine brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans for a minimum of eight years.

It was discovered that individuals with higher levels of vitamin B12 at the beginning of the study experienced less brain shrinkage during the clinical trial. Additionally, higher levels of homocysteine were shown to be associated with accelerated rates of total brain volume loss.

In my clinical practice, I supplement my patients with B vitamins routinely, with a focus on B12 and folate along with an array of other B vitamins. I find not only that this helps people to generally feel better and dream more often when sleeping, but that it also helps protect brain function.

It boggles the mind that baseline testing of blood homocysteine for all adults 30 years or older is not routine practice among health care providers. I seek to help my patients maintain a homocysteine value of around 7, or about midway in the lab reference range. I also examine their red blood cell size or mean corpuscular volume (MCV), which is part of a complete blood count (CBC). An MCV of 90 is generally a good sign, but if the index exceeds 90—and definitely when it exceeds 95 (reference range 80-100)—I prescribe a B12 and/or folate regimen, and often a good B-complex in addition. We must “test, not guess” when it comes to our health. The researchers of the JAMA Psychiatry study concluded:

This study suggests that both vitamin B12 and total homocysteine concentrations may be related to accelerated aging of the brain. Randomized clinical trials are needed to determine the importance of vitamin B12 supplementation on slowing brain aging in older adults.”

Your health is vitally important. I encourage all my patients to routinely request testing of indicators such as their homocysteine levels, to better guide the trajectory of their long-term health.

Written by Dr. Chris Meletis


Hooshmand B, et al. JAMA Psychiatry. 2016 Apr 27.


Health Tips On the Go!

Improve Posture

  • 1.Avoid slouching. Be aware of your posture as you walk, sit, and drive, keep shoulders squared and head pulled back and up.

  • 2.Imagine a thread pulling the top of your head toward the ceiling. Visualization can help improve your sense of position.

  • 3.If your job requires you to sit for long periods, take frequent breaks to stand, stretch and shake it out.

  • 4.Maintain a strong core to help support proper posture. Add core-training exercises to your daily routine.

  • 5.A firm mattress and ergonomic pillow help achieve proper back support while you sleep, so you'll stand straighter in the a.m.

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