Dementia link to lack of vitamin B

A diet lacking in B-vitamins may increase the risk of vascular dementia, according to a US study.

Researchers tested the effects of a vitamin B-deficient diet on the spatial learning and memory of mice. They found that mice fed a diet deficient in folate and vitamins B6 and B12 over 10 weeks had deficits in spatial learning and memory compared with mice fed a normal diet.

Examination of the brains of the vitamin B-deprived mice showed that they had suffered microvascular damage in the regions of the brain involved in memory.

The vitamin B-deprived mice also had high blood serum levels of homocysteine, a chemical that has previously been associated with an increased risk of cognitive impairment.

The researchers concluded that a diet deficient in B-vitamins causes cerebrovascular damage, and could result in cognitive impairment and dementia or other cerebrovascular disease.

PNAS 2008; 105: 12,474-9.

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