Vitamin B Can Help Preserve Cognitive Function

01 February, 2021
A well-balanced diet should provide all the nutrients your body needs to function properly and help preserve your cognitive function. Vitamin B is one of the most important ones for the brain, do you know why?

You probably already know that vitamins are essential for cognitive function and health in general. However, vitamin B is key to brain health and can slow down its process of aging. These nutrients are catalysts for all sorts of physiological reactions and those in this organ are no exception.

According to the results of various studies, vitamin B6, B9, and B12 deficiencies could result in brain disease, both during development and in adulthood. This is why these substances are quite necessary for the health of this organ, which basically controls the body.

Continue reading to find out more!

The importance of homocysteine for preserving cognitive function

One of the functions of this vitamin is to prevent the accumulation of homocysteine, a toxic substance produced by the metabolism. It could harm the brain when the body doesn’t properly eliminate it.

The formula for Homocysteine.

Homocysteine is a metabolic waste product produced in the body. It doesn’t normally wreak havoc, as there are systems in place to eliminate it.

However, failure to eliminate this substance can lead to blockage of the blood vessel walls. This reduction of the ducts hinders the circulation of blood throughout the body, including the brain. Moreover, the accumulation of homocysteine can damage neurons.

Vitamins B6, B9, and B12 can eliminate this residue. In fact, their action is so important that any deficiencies increase the risk of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and dementia, according to research published in the journal Advances in Nutrition.

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Preventing deficiencies to preserve cognitive function

In recent years, scientific research found that levels of B vitamins are lower in people with neurodegenerative diseases. Noted that this is also related to their age.

Also, a recently published international consensus concludes that elevated homocysteine levels in the blood (between 5-30 % more than normal) are a risk for cognitive impairment and dementia in older people.

This is why you can simply correct a B-vitamin deficiency: add a variety of food that’s rich in vitamin B to your regular diet.

Vitamin B is present in many types of food such as meat, fish, and green leafy vegetables. Thus, it isn’t difficult to obtain them and correct (or avoid, as the case may be) any deficiencies you might have.

Natural sources of vitamins B6, B9, and B12

Here’s a guide of some of the types of food that are rich in vitamins B6, B9, and B12. Their inclusion in a varied, well-balanced diet will help keep your brain young and healthy.

Vitamin B6

A plate of stuffed avocados and boiled eggs.

Poultry meats such as chicken, turkey, quail, duck, pheasant, tuna, chickpeas, cereals, and potatoes all contain vitamin B6.

A deficiency is associated with the risk of depression, lightheadedness, and low immunity.

Vitamin B9

A bowl of spinach.

Vitamin B9 is present in green leafy vegetables and herbs such as broccoli, spinach, lettuce, chard, parsley, watercress, etc. as well as avocado, papaya, oranges, legumes, and nuts.

Its deficiency can cause headaches, irritability, mood swings, weakness, and lack of concentration.

Vitamin B12

Eggs are great sources of vitamin B and can help preserve cognitive function.

Vitamin B12 is particularly abundant in meat, fish, seafood, eggs, and dairy products, so vegans are more prone to this kind of deficiency.

It’s a proven fact that a deficiency of this vitamin can cause memory deficit, depression, and a loss of cognitive functions in general. Also, a lack of this nutrient conditions the appearance of anemia.

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Include vitamin B in your diet to preserve your cognitive function

The Mediterranean diet is optimal when it comes to getting adequate amounts of vitamin B. That’s why it’s the best choice to keep your brain young and healthy.

Your levels of homocysteine normalize as soon as you include adequate amounts of the various nutrients if you have a well-balanced diet. However, consult your doctor if you still have abnormal levels of this metabolite despite your diet, as you could have a disorder.

  • Fenech M., Vitamins associated with brain aging, mild cognitive impairment, and alzheimer disease: biomarkers, epidemiological and experimental evidence, plausible mechanisms, and knowledge gaps. Adv Nutr, 2017.
  • Selhub J., Bagley JC., Miller J., Rosenberg IH., B vitamins, homocysteine, and neurocognitive function in the elderly. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2000.
  • Smith AD., Refsum H., Bottiglieri T., Fenech M., et al., H0mocysteine and dementia: an international consensus statement. J Alzheimers Dis, 2018. 62 (2): 561-570.