By: Kristen Hegel
With school, work and sports, some teenagers may forget to maintain a balanced diet. As many people have heard before, not getting the daily needed dose of vitamins can affect your health, but a new study has linked low levels of Vitamin B to brain shrinkage and memory problems.
Researchers at Rush University Medical Center did a study including 121 people living in Chicago. The participants went through almost 5 years of memory and brain function tests and brain imaging scans. They found that a lack of Vitamin B12 is linked to thinking problems and shrinking of the brain. These low Vitamin B levels are indicated by high levels of other acids, like homocysteine. “We found that the Vitamin B treatment not only slowly declined, it stopped it in some people with high levels of homocysteine,” A. David Smith, professor of pharmacology at Oxford University, said.
According to researchers, sustaining levels of B12 is important in order for the brain to maintain the insulating layers of tissue around the nerves in the brain. When that insulation is damaged, the thought process suffers because nerve cells are slowed down. “We saw much more rapid declines in memory in people who were deficient in B12 as assessed by these more sophisticated markers,” Christine Tangney, PhD at Rush University, stated. She also added that as we get older, it’s harder for the body to absorb vitamins.
The findings of this study were recently published in a science journal called Neurology. “Vitamin B12 status may affect the brain through multiple mechanisms,” the group stated in the journal. Director of Nutrition at Rush University, Martha Clare Morris, said that supplements of B12 work to prevent the wearing down of the brain. “So at least from this one clinical trial it appears that [supplementation] may have some benefit,” Morris said. A recent study in the United Kingdom also found that supplements of B12 were good for one’s health.
Doctors advise eating fortified foods containing Vitamin B such as meats, poultry, eggs, fish, dairy and healthy breakfast cereal. The recommended dose for male and female teenagers is 2.4 mgs per day. Keeping up a healthy lifestyle does not have to be difficult. One can take simple steps starting now to prevent disorders that may occur later on in life.