Alzheimer's disease

Vitamin B halts memory loss in breakthrough British trial

A simple vitamin pill could prevent millions from suffering the agony of Alzheimer's.

The tablet, costing as little as 10p a day and made up of three vitamin B supplements, cut brain shrinkage linked to memory loss by up to 500 per cent.

Oxford University researchers behind the landmark study said it offered the 'first glimmer of hope' in the battle to find a drug that slows or stops the development of Alzheimer's

This computer graphic shows a vertical slice through the brain of an Alzheimer patient (left) compared with a normal brain (right). The Alzheimer's disease brain is considerably shrunken, due to the degeneration and death of nerve cells

It and other forms of dementia blight the lives of more than 800,000 Britons, and the number of cases is expected to double within a generation.

No previous drug trials have been successful and, with around 500 new cases of Alzheimer's diagnosed every day in the UK alone, anything that delays the development of the disease could improve the lives of millions.

The breakthrough centres on a compound called homocysteine, which is naturally made in the body and, at high levels, has been linked to memory loss and Alzheimer's.

Vitamin B is known to break down homocysteine so the researchers decided to look at whether giving patients the vitamin would be good for memory.

Working with colleagues in Norway, the Oxford team recruited 270 pensioners suffering from slight memory lapses that can be a precursor to Alzheimer's.

Known as mild cognitive impairment, or MCI, it affects one in six aged 70-plus, or 1.5million Britons.

Half of those with MCI will develop dementia within five years of diagnosis. Half of those taking part in the trial took a vitamin B tablet a day for two years.

The tablets contained extremely high doses of vitamins B6, 9 and 12.

For instance, the amount of B12 was up to 300 times higher than could be obtained by simply eating bananas, meat, wholegrains, beans and other foods rich in the vitamin.

The others took a daily dummy pill with no active ingredients.

Brain scans were carried out to check if the pill reduced the shrinkage of the brain that happens naturally as we age and speeds up in memory loss.

Other Alzheimer’s (brain) supports are Coconut oil, antioxidants, Phosphatidyl serine, Fish oils, Huperzine