Omega-3 may boost vitamin B

From Care and cure magazine - Spring 2016, find out about vitamin B supplements.

New research suggests that vitamin B supplements could help to improve learning and memory for some older people who have high levels of omega-3 fatty acids in their blood.

Researchers studied over 250 older people with mild cognitive impairment – memory problems that are not severe enough to be classed as dementia – and gave them either B vitamins or a placebo for two years. Blood levels of several chemicals, including omega-3, were measured before and after the study. 

The study found that people who had high levels of omega-3 in their blood and took vitamin B performed better at thinking and memory tests, compared to those who did not take vitamin B or had low omega-3 levels. 

Evidence for the role of vitamin B in dementia is not clear. B vitamins are responsible for lowering homocysteine, a chemical often found at high levels in the blood of people with dementia, but some clinical trials have shown that taking B vitamins has no effect on brain function, despite their effect on homocysteine. 

Dr Doug Brown, Director of Research and Development at Alzheimer's Society, said, 'These results help us to tease apart who could benefit from taking B vitamins, suggesting that they might only improve cognition in people who have high levels of omega-3 oils in their blood. 

'As this study shows, the relationship between nutrition and brain health is complex. We need to see increased research efforts to help us understand the role that diet and nutrition can play in reducing a person's risk of dementia.'