Slowing Alzheimer’s: Three Bs put to the test

According to researchers from Georgetown University Medical Center’s Memory Disorders Program, three common B vitamins may make a difference in the lives of those who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease. They have published encouraging results of a preliminary study and are leading a 40-centre trial to see whether the three vitamins – folic acid, B-12 and B-6 – can slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

In a pilot study, published in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, the researchers found that high dose vitamins reduce levels of the amino acid homocysteine in individuals with Alzheimer’s disease. Previous studies have linked homocysteine to Alzheimer’s disease. Homocysteine is a damaging form of the amino acid L-cysteine and is also thought to contribute to heart disease.

“Individuals with Alzheimer’s disease have higher levels of homocysteine than people of similar age who do not have the disease,” said Dr Paul Aisen, a lead researcher. “In our pilot study we have demonstrated that we are able to reduce levels of homocysteine using a vitamin regimen that is both safe and inexpensive. Now we are conducting a therapeutic trial to determine whether use of the vitamins folic acid, B-12 and B-6 to lower homocysteine level has a favourable impact on the course of the disease.”

The multicentre vitamin study, known as Vital (VITamins to Slow Alzheimer’s Disease) will be funded by the National Institute on Aging.

Georgetown University, Mar 17, 2003