Did you know that people over the age of 65 have something in common with people who have autism and schizophrenia? This shared trait could give you a great way to beat age-related dementia.
Obviously, dementia patients, along with autistic and schizophrenic patients, have some sort of brain dysfunction. And this common factor could explain why.
Researchers at Nova Southeastern University recently discovered that elderly people and people with autism or schizophrenia have much lower levels of vitamin B12 in their brains than healthy or younger people do. What the researchers, who published their findings in the journal PLOS One, found particularly interesting was that blood levels of B12 seemed stable across these populations. The decreases showed up only in their brains. The researchers believe that these deficits could contribute to the neurological and neuropsychiatric symptoms associated with autism, schizophrenia, and age-related conditions like dementia.
Some decreases in vitamin B12 in the brain could simply be a normal part of the aging process to help the brain metabolism adjust. However, dramatic decreases could disrupt memory. It's also important to recognize that vitamin B12 deficits may be an effect of something else that's contributing to dementia, rather than a direct cause. For example, researchers speculate that oxidative stress could be contributing to both dementia and decreased B12 levels.
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Until we know more, it's important to tackle both issues, particularly for those over 65. This is especially true if you or a loved one lives in a long-term care facility. According to research published in Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, vitamin B12 deficiency affects up to 43% of residents of these facilities. We should all be taking steps to reduce oxidative stress on our bodies, as this is a major contributor to aging. You can do this by consuming antioxidant-rich foods and supplements and avoiding toxins and pollutants that contribute to oxidative stress. The pomegranate juice POM, available at Walmart and other grocery stores, can help as well.
Second, if you or a loved one is in a long-term care facility, it's vital that they have a trial of injectable vitamin B12 in the form of methylcobalamin. Sadly, most doctors will not give these patients a trial of injectable B12 because their blood levels are almost always normal. But as this study clearly shows, blood levels do not always predict brain levels. Here's what I recommend: Take 2 mg of intramuscular methylcobalamin (the active form of B12) twice a week for four weeks. If that doesn't reverse the dementia, then the cause is something else. What about oral B12?
The problem with oral B12 is that most of these patients cannot absorb it. So, the best thing to do is to use the injections at first. If they work, you might be able to substitute an oral form.
Yours for better health,
Frank Shallenberger, MD