Take Vitamins if You Want to Keep Your Brain Young
MULTIVITAMINS BOOST ADULT BRAINS
Can multivitamins also stimulate increased brain function in fully mature adult brains, even those that appear to be well nourished? There’s good evidence for it. Many adults, too, have marginal subclinical deficiencies of vitamins that can be corrected by taking vitamins, stimulating better brain function. Further, vitamins in excess of the so-called recommended daily allowances could also have a kind of pharmacological effect—creating supranormal advantages to the brain above what would be expected from normal nutrition.
In one double-blind test, Dr. Benton had 127 healthy adults, men and women ages seventeen to twenty-seven, take either a placebo or a multivitamin supplement of nine vitamins for an entire year. It included moderately high doses of vitamin A, thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, vitamin C, vitamin E, folic acid, biotin, and nicotinamide. All subjects were given a battery of computer generated psychometric tests (to measure reaction time, intelligence, and so forth) before supplementation and every three months after supplementation.
Surprisingly, the vitamins had the greatest benefits on the mental functioning of females. Generally, women vitamin-takers had faster reaction times and processed information more quickly. In all cases, when vitamin status improved, so did cognitive functioning in women. Such improvement was most closely linked to improvements in vitamin B6 status. Why women did better than men is unclear, but may be related to interactions between the B vitamins and estrogen, theorized researchers.
Want to Keep Your Brain Young? Take Vitamins
As more researchers unravel the mysteries of the aging brain, it’s indisputable that older people with high blood levels of certain vitamins and antioxidants have better intellectual vitality. Exciting new evidence shows that there may be no better way to protect your brain from the ravages of so-called “normal aging,” than by packing in vitamins, particularly B vitamins and antioxidants through diet and supplements. Blood levels of such nutrients may be an indicator of age-related memory and other mental abilities.
A team of researchers at the University of New Mexico, headed by James S. Goodwin, M.D., first brought that fact to medical attention in a 1983 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. The investigators suspected that “subclinical” or mild undetected vitamin deficiencies might be linked to subtle cognitive impairment in normal healthy independent-living older Americans.
They studied 260 men and women ranging from ages sixty to ninety-four years old in the Albuquerque area. Remarkably, none took any prescription medications or had any diagnosed serious medical problems that could affect nutritional or cognitive status. The subjects appeared in excellent health.
All were given standardized tests of memory, abstract thinking, and problem solving abilities designed to detect minimal changes in mental status.
Here’s what they found: Generally, the more vitamin C and various B vitamins in the blood, the better the mental function scores. The gap was particularly dramatic between those with the very lowest and highest vitamin blood levels. For example, those in the top 90 percentiles of blood vitamin C made about 20 percent fewer errors on the reasoning and problem-solving tests and scored nearly 25 percent better in the memory tests than those in the bottom 10 percentiles for vitamin C.
Those with lower B12 also did worse on both memory and reasoning tests; those with low riboflavin or folic acid did worse on abstract calculating abilities. Thus, the research suggests that you increase your chances of good mental function as you age by maintaining high blood levels of B vitamins and vitamin C.
When Asenath La Rue, and colleagues at the University of New Mexico, restudied the above group six years later, they found essentially the same thing: High vitamin blood levels predicted high cognitive test scores. They also found that those taking supplements consistently had a “higher cognitive performance” than non-supplement-takers. Notably, those taking B vitamins scored better on memory performance and abstract thinking tests. Of high interest, many of the vitamin-taking subjects (ages sixty-six to ninety) “scored as well or better than younger adults on verbal memory,” researchers concluded.
When researchers at the University of Hawaii recently tested the cognitive functioning of 3735 Japanese-American elderly men who were part of the long-term Honolulu Heart Program, they found that those who scored best were taking vitamins or had taken them for the previous four years. Regardless of age, education, or history of stroke, those currently taking multivitamins or vitamin C or vitamin E separately had the best intellectual function. There was a particularly strong protective effect for those who had taken vitamin C and vitamin E for the previous four years. Researchers suggest that the antioxidant activity of the vitamins retarded age-related cognitive decline.
Similarly, German researchers have found that a vitamin deficiency has cruel consequences for the functioning of older brains, including memory and mood. In 1986, investigators at the University of Gottingen and the University of Giessen compared the vitamin blood status of a group of sixty older men and women (ages sixty-five to ninety-one) and their scores on a variety of mental tests. Those who had substandard levels of any vitamin, especially thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin B12, and vitamin C, were much more apt to be emotionally unstable, depressed, excitable, nervous, anxious, angry, irritable, easily discouraged, and fatigued.
For example, those with low vitamin status were two-and-a-half times more apt to be fatigued and angry and twice as likely to be excitable and irritable. Those who lacked vitamins also had poorer short-term memories and slower reactions times. The researchers concluded that “behavior impairments, traceable by psychometric tests, seem most frequently to be the earliest clinical signs of vitamin deficiency.”
Virtually every day exciting new research shows that various supplements encourages optimal brain functioning. Here’s the latest evidence of the brain-boosting power of the B vitamins, vitamin E, vitamin C, coenzyme Q1 0, lipoic acid, ginkgo, phosphatidlyserine, and several other promising supplements for the brain