Dear Living Well Daily Reader,
Do you ever get that “I know I should know this” feeling?
Or find yourself missing important appointments or events, only to realize it hours or even days later?
Or constantly have words at the tip of your tongue but can’t ever seem to find them?
Then you may be one of the 16 million people in the U.S. suffering from a common condition called mild cognitive impairment, or MCI.
MCI is a precursor for dementia and is diagnosed when your brain functions are below what’s normal from your age yet not serious enough to interfere with your everyday life. When left untreated, MCI often results in full-blown dementia.
One reason MCI may happen to you is age-related brain shrinkage.
Fortunately, B vitamins, particularly vitamin B12, can slow down and even prevent memory decline and the brain shrinkage associated with age and MCI. This is especially true in folks who have elevated levels of homocysteine, a toxic chemical that encourages brain atrophy.
But recently, scientists have discovered that B vitamins are most potent against the negative effects of aging on the brain when taken with another vital nutrient.
In fact, an international research team has proven that without a healthy level of this powerful nutrient, B vitamins are rendered almost useless at shielding your brain from cognitive impairment.
For the study, 250 people who were afflicted with mild cognitive impairment in Oxford, England, were subjected to a battery of tests that measured their cognitive abilities. In addition, they also had a blood test that measured their levels of omega-3 fatty acids (commonly found in certain fish).
Then the volunteers were randomly split into two different groups, one of which took a B vitamin supplement and the other which took a placebo for the next two years. Their cognitive abilities were then re-evaluated and compared with the base-line results from the beginning of the experiment.
And what they found was SHOCKING!
As it turns out, folks who had low levels of omega-3s saw almost no brain-protective benefits from taking the vitamin B supplements.
However, in folks who had high levels of omega-3s, the B vitamins “were very effective in preventing cognitive decline compared to the placebo.”
This means if you’re taking B vitamins, including B12, without taking omega-3s, you might was well be taking nothing at all.
Dr. Doug Brown, director of research and development at Alzheimer’s Society, reports:
These results help us to tease apart who could benefit from taking B vitamins, suggesting that they might only improve cognition in people who have high levels of omega-3 oils in their blood. Encouragingly, these findings suggest that for some older people a combination of fish oil supplements and B vitamins may help to improve thinking and memory.
If you’re currently taking B vitamins, be sure to couple them with a fish oil supplement.
But be cautious of which brand you choose. Only purchase fish oil supplements that have been molecularly distilled so they are free of contaminants.
Managing editor, Living Well Daily