Preventing cognitive decline as we age may require only simple measures, according to several recent research articles out of Oxford University, the University of Pittsburgh, and the National Institute of Aging. Scientists have been looking into the association between preventive lifestyle measures and the size of our brains as we age.
As we age, our brains atrophy; they get smaller over time. This is a normal process, just like graying hair or skin wrinkling. However, according to MRI scans, people with senility tend to have more brain atrophy than similarly aged individuals with good cognitive function. Alzheimer’s Disease produces even faster rates of brain atrophy.
Oxford University researchers recently published study findings indicating that in patients with mild cognitive decline older than 70 years old, daily supplementation for two years with folic acid (800mg), vitamin B-12 (500 micrograms), and vitamin B-6 (20mg) decreases the rate of brain atrophy compared to similar patients taking a placebo.
Research by scientists at the National Institute of Aging found that low folate levels may increase the likelihood of symptoms of depression – especially in women between the ages of 20 and 85 years old.
Folic acid, vitamin B-12 and vitamin B-6 status can be measured with a single simple blood test: homocysteine. There is an inverse relationship between intake of these vitamins and homocysteine levels – homocysteine goes down with supplementation of these nutrients. Optimal homocysteine levels are less than 12 nm/L.
In another study, researchers from the University of Pittsburgh found that women and men in their 70’s who walk more than 9 miles per week have better cognitive function than their less active peers. These patients were monitored for 9 years and their preservation of cognitive function was correlated with slower rates of brain atrophy.
The amounts of folic acid, vitamin B-12 and vitamin B-6 suggested above are non-toxic – adverse effects at these dosages does not commonly occur. Physical activity, such as walking, not only improves cognitive function but also prevents cardiovascular disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, and enhances mood. These natural approaches to mental health are affordable and powerful medicine you can use without a prescription.