STOCKHOLM, Sweden, Oct. 20 (UPI) -- Vitamin B12 -- found in fish, poultry and other meat -- may protect against Alzheimer's disease, researchers in Sweden suggest.
Dr. Babak Hooshmand of Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden, says the seven-year study involved 271 Finnish people, ages 65-79. None of the participants had dementia at the start of the study and 17 developed Alzheimer's disease during the seven years it ran.
Blood samples were tested for levels for homocysteine, an amino acid associated with vitamin B12, and for levels of the active portion of vitamin B12, called holotranscobalamin.
The study, published in the journal Neurology, found that for each micromolar -- one millionth of a mole per liter -- increase in the concentration of homocysteine, increased the risk of Alzheimer's disease by 16 percent, but for each picomolar -- one trillionth of a mole -- increase in concentration of the active form of vitamin B12 reduced Alzheimer's risk by 2 percent.
"Our findings show the need for further research on the role of vitamin B12 as a marker for identifying people who are at increased risk of Alzheimer's disease," Hooshmand, the study author, says in a statement.
"Low levels of vitamin B12 are surprisingly common in the elderly. However, the few studies that have investigated the usefulness of vitamin B12 supplements to reduce the risk of memory loss have had mixed results."