B vitamins are a nutrient-related family that works as a team. Nine B vitamins form a balanced complex to help keep the body functioning properly. Together they support metabolism, help increase energy, maintain healthy skin, hair and muscle tone, and enhance immune and nervous system function. *
Multiple Functions of B Vitamins
Science has proven the brain needs B vitamins to function correctly and the heart needs B vitamins to stay healthy. In fact, just about every organ and process within the body requires at least one form of B vitamin.
All of the B vitamins play a role in metabolism, while some also protect the nervous system. Vitamins B6 (pyridoxine), B12 (cobalamin) and folic acid (B9) are especially known to influence neural functioning.
B12 Plays Important Role in Memory
B12 appears to protect the brain against age-related problems. A lack of B12 most often occurs among older adults because the body’s ability to absorb it from food declines with age.
Research shows promise that large doses of B6, B12 and folate given for two years slow progression of mild cognitive impairment in the elderly.
What role do the low levels of vitamin B12 that are common among the elderly actually play in memory loss? Finnish researchers tracked 271 people ages 65 to 79 for seven years and discovered supplementation with B12 reduced the risk of developing Alzheimer’s for most of the subjects. *
Folic acid supplements may help prevent the neurologic deterioration that occurs in Parkinson’s disease. Brazilian scientists find that homocysteine levels are 30 percent higher in Parkinson’s patients than in controls, and folic acid deficiency is the major determinant of that increase. *
Low blood levels of B6, B12 and folate also are linked to depression in people of all ages. A large study in Spain linked the prevalence of depression with low folate intake among men who smoke and among men with low anxiety levels. Among women, depression manifested in those with low B12 intake. *
Even among healthy males in the prime of life, a high-dose B- complex vitamin and mineral supplement may have cognitive and mood benefits. In a randomized, double-blind trial, most men who got the supplement for 33 days rated themselves less subject to stress and did better on a range of tests assessing mood, mental well-being and cognitive performance during intense mental processing. The vitamins may protect against mental fatigue in tasks requiring high levels of attention and executive control. *