Newest Research for B Vitamins

B Vitamins Linked to Cognitive Health in Latest Study

Breaking News from VRP as released to Dr. Steelman:
By VRP Staff
Low levels of B vitamins can play a role in cognitive dysfunction and impair learning ability, suggests a new animal study.

Researchers measured the metabolic, cognitive, and microvascular effects of B-vitamin deficiency in mice. The scientists divided the animals into three groups and fed them different diets for 10 weeks. The researchers gave the control group a normal diet containing B vitamins while two other groups were fed B-vitamin deficient diets. Blood levels of B vitamins and homocysteine were measured and brain anatomy was assessed. The mice also underwent tests to measure cognitive function such as holding on to a wire and walking a beam as well as the Morris water maze, which tests spatial learning and memory.

In analyzing structural changes to the brain, researchers determined that the mice fed a diet deficient in folate, vitamin B12 and B6 had reduced brain capillary length and density, both vascular changes linked to cognitive impairment. Mice fed a diet deficient in folate, vitamin B12 and vitamin B6 also demonstrated significant deficits in spatial learning and memory compared with normal mice. It took longer, on average, for the B-vitamin-deficient mice to negotiate the water maze, compared with controls. The shorter the capillary length in the hippocampus, the longer it took for mice to escape from the maze.

Moreover, mice deficient in these B vitamins developed homocysteine levels seven times greater than control subjects. Homocysteine is an amino acid associated with heart disease and also cognitive dysfunction. High homocysteine levels have been linked to deficiencies of folate, vitamin B12, and vitamin B6. The higher the homocysteine levels in the mice used in this study, the shorter the capillary length in the hippocampus.

The researchers noted that similar microvascular changes may occur in humans deficient in folate and vitamins B6 and B12 and that this may explain the association of high homocysteine levels with human age-related cognitive decline.


Troen AM, Shea-Budgell M, Shukitt-Hale B, Smith DE, Selhub J, Rosenberg IH. B-vitamin deficiency causes hyperhomocysteinemia and vascular cognitive impairment in mice. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2008 Aug 26;105(34):12474-9.

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