News from the British Science festival and from International Psychiatry and several British newspapers may show tremendous hope for people at risk for and alreading showing mild impairment consistent with Alzheimer's. A larger study is needed--yet for 270 women and men more than 70 years old who had started to have changes in mental ability (mild Cognitive Impairment or MCI), two years of higher dose B vitamins appeared to offer great benefits.
The study was lead by Dr. Celest deJager at Oxford University. Half of the people in the study were given high doses of vitamin B12, B6 and folic acid. Taking these vitamins was realted to testing of homocysteine levels and those with the highest homocysteine levels at the start of the study were 70 percent more likely to give the right answer to test questions administered during the two years of the study. People who did not have high homocysteine showed little difference in mental function.
What would a smart person do? It's essential to talk to your doctor about checking a homocysteine level. This is also interesting as this compound got some early press as a risk factor for heart disease. There is also a larger study (on the order of 1,000 patients) planned which should give much clearer results. Have a frank discussion with your doctor about your risk of Alzheimer's, what they think of the study and if higher doses of these 3 B vitamins makes any sense for you.