Scientists from Xuanwu Hospital and elsewhere found that vitamin B supplementation may slow down cognitive decline.
Elevation of homocysteine (Hcy) levels is a big risk factor for dementia. Vitamin B has been found to reduce homocysteine levels.
But whether vitamin B supplementation can benefit cognitive function has been unclear.
In the current study, researchers aimed to examine whether B vitamins could reduce the risks of cognitive decline and dementia.
They reviewed studies about B vitamin supplementation and its effect on the rate of cognitive decline.
A total of 95 studies with 46175 participants were included.
The evidence supports that B vitamins can benefit cognitive function, and this result was also strong in studies where placebo groups developed cognitive decline. This suggests that B vitamins slow cognitive decline.
For the > 12 months interventional period, B vitamin supplementation decreased cognitive decline compared to placebo; no such effect was detected for the shorter intervention.
The team also found in the people without dementia, B vitamin supplementation slowed cognitive decline compared to placebo; this outcome was not found for the dementia population.
Lower folate levels (but not B12 or B6 deficiency) and higher Hcy levels were strongly linked to higher risks of dementia and cognitive decline.
Among the population without dementia aged 50 years and above, the risk of dementia was strongly decreased in people with a higher intake of folate.
But higher intake of B12 or B6 was not linked to lower dementia risk.
Based on the findings, the researchers suggest that B vitamin supplementation is associated with slowing cognitive decline, especially in people who received early intervention and intervention of long duration.
The study also suggests that a higher intake of dietary folate, but not B12 or B6, is associated with a reduced risk of dementia in older people without dementia.
The team says given the prevalence of dementia cases in many countries with older people, public health policies should ensure that people at high risk can have adequate B vitamin supplementation.
The research was published in Nutrition Reviews and was conducted by Zhibin Wang et al.
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