B Vitamins Are Important for Mental Health & Wellbeing
A Key reason for B vitamins’ effect on a wide range of mood disorders and neurological and psychiatric conditions relates to the fact that these vitamins have a direct impact on the methylation cycle, and are required for the production and function of neurotransmitters and the maintenance of myelin, the fatty sheath surrounding your nerve cells.
Without this protective coating, nerve signals become slow and sporadic, which can lead to motor function problems, cognitive losses and changes in mood. B8 also aids in cell communication, allowing your cells to properly interpret chemical messages and respond accordingly.
B6, folate and B12 (in combination with S-adenosylmethionine or SAMe) regulate the synthesis and breakdown of brain chemicals involved in mood control, including serotonin, melatonin and dopamine.
So, a deficiency in one or more of these B vitamins can also play a role in depression.
B Vitamins Also Protect Against Dementia
In fact, mental fogginess and memory problems are two of the top warning signs of vitamin B12 deficiency.
One of the mechanisms of action here is the suppression of homocysteine, which tends to be elevated when you have brain degeneration.
High homocysteine levels are associated with dementia and Alzheimer’s. Vitamins B6, B9, and B12 help convert homocysteine into methionine — a building block for proteins.
If you do not get enough of these B vitamins, this conversion process is impaired, causing your homocysteine level to rise. Conversely, when you increase intake of folate, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12, your homocysteine levels decrease.
One study confirming this was published in Y 2010.
Participants received either a placebo or 800 mcg of folic acid, 500 mcg of B12 and 20 mg of B6. The study was based on the presumption that by controlling homocysteine levels you might be able to reduce brain shrinkage, thereby slowing the onset of Alzheimer’s.
After 2 years those who received the vitamin-B regimen had significantly less brain shrinkage compared to the placebo group. Those who had the highest levels of homocysteine at the start of the trial experienced brain shrinkage at half the rate of those taking a placebo.
A Y 2013 study took this research a step further, showing that not only do B vitamins slow brain shrinkage, but they specifically slow shrinkage in brain regions known to be most severely impacted by Alzheimer’s disease.
Moreover, in those specific areas the shrinkage is decreased by as much as 700%.
As in the previous study, participants taking high doses of folic acid and vitamins B6 and B12 lowered their blood levels of homocysteine, and brain shrinkage was decreased by as much as 90%.
Folic acid and B3 are the stay young and be sharp B vitamins, I have been taking them daily for over 50 years.
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