Vitamins B12 and Folic Acid Repair Myelin Damage
Australian researchers report that B12 and folic acid (B9) improve cognitive function.
Researchers in Australia have been able to demonstrate that B vitamins defend against brain stress. Stress in general leads to loss of memory function that leads to early aging. This study had patients take vitamin B12 and folic acid on a daily basis for 2 years. They found that long-term administration of these B vitamins increased the patients cognitive ability particularly in immediate and delayed memory.
Immediate memory has to do with being able to remember small amounts of information in a short period of time. Delayed memory is defined as an active mental process of keeping and throwing out (removing from memory) ideas that are unacceptable. This clinical trial was conducted by Dr. Walker over a two year period. The patients were elderly and all were demonstrating depression. They were all living in the same stressful environment. The purpose of this study was to collect data on whether B vitamins could prevent cognitive loss with patients who are under stress.
Let it be known that vitamin B12 is well known for its role in nerve transmission. It has been observed that abnormal myelin occurs with vitamin B12 deficiencies. Myelin is the insulation (fat wrappings) around axons and it is there to promote fast action potentials or speedy nerve transmission. Inflammation is often associated with abnormal myelin. B12 is also involved in the production of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine that is involved with short-term memory.
One group of patients took 400mcg of folic acid and 100mcg of B12 every day. These patients were compared to a control group who received placebos. Measurements were made at 1 and 2 year intervals. These patients were tested for cognitive ability by taking phone interviews for the Cognitive Status Standardized Test and the Brief Test of Adult Cognition to determine how fast they could process information. At the end of 2 years a questionnaire on cognitive decline in the elderly was given to provide a final analysis of cognitive function.
These researchers found that the supplemented group had better memory function than the control group. The idea here is that stress generates inflammation to neuronal structures in the brain. This in turn disturbs electrical conductances as well as chemical transmissions between nerves that are needed to form new memories and maintain cognitive function.
Dr. Walker concluded that long-term daily administration of 400mcg of folic acid and 100mcg of B12 increases cognitive ability after 2 years. This was specifically the case with immediate and delayed memory components. This group suggests that individuals should take a daily supplement of B vitamins including B12 along with omega-3 fatty acids known as EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA ( docosahexaenoic acid) to prevent the loss of memory as they age to prevent overall cognitive loss.
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