Other risk factors for brain atrophy include high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol.
Not only might B12 levels be a modifiable risk factor for cognitive decline, it might also be a clue to help clinicians assess cognitive problems earlier on.
Right now, it's not clear what the biological mechanisms behind the link might be, nor is it clear whether added B12 would avert brain atrophy.
"We are doing a clinical trial in Oxford in which we are giving B vitamins [including B12] to elderly people with memory impairment," Vogiatzoglou said. "In this trial, we are doing MRI scans at the start and the end, and so, we will be able to find out if taking B vitamins really does slow down the shrinking of the brain. The trial will be completed in 2009."
Learn more about vitamin B-12 at the National Institutes of Health.
SOURCES: Anna Vogiatzoglou, R.D., doctoral candidate, department of physiology, anatomy and genetics, University of Oxford, England; Jonathan Friedman, M.D., associate professor, surgery and neuroscience and experimental therapeutics, Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine, and associate dean, College of Medicine, Bryan-College Station campus, and director, Texas Brain and Spine Institute, College Station; Shari Midoneck, M.D., associate clinical professor, medicine, Weill Cornell
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