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B12 May Help Prevent Brain Shrinkage

A new study suggests that having adequate vitamin B12 helps to minimize the brain shrinkage that occurs with aging. This is not the first study to find this either, and previously both folate and B12 have been found to benefit the brain in more ways than one.

This new study investigated the interrelations of serum B12 markers with brain volumes, cerebral infarcts, and performance in different cognitive measures.

Results showed that concentrations of all vitamin B12-related markers (methylmalonate, cystathionine, 2-methylcitrate, and homocysteine) but not serum vitamin B12 itself, were associated with global cognitive function and with total brain volume.

Methylmalonate levels were associated with poorer episodic memory and perceptual speed, and cystathionine and 2-methylcitrate with poorer episodic and semantic memory. Homocysteine concentrations were associated with decreased total brain volume.

The researchers concluded, "methylmalonate, a specific marker of B12 deficiency, may affect cognition by reducing total brain volume whereas the effect of homocysteine (nonspecific to vitamin B12 deficiency) on cognitive performance may be mediated through increased white matter hyperintensity and cerebral infarcts. Vitamin B12 status may affect the brain through multiple mechanisms."

Source: Vitamin B12, cognition, and brain MRI measures: a cross-sectional examination

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