as much as a DECADE before it takes hold!
Mainstream medicine has spent dozens of years—not to mention billions of dollars—researching Alzheimer’s disease. Yet they’re no closer to solving this devastating, deadly epidemic than they were decades ago.
They’re so hung up on plaques and tangles that they’ve utterly ignored the most obvious symptom of Alzheimer’s. One that shows up 10 years before the disease really starts to take hold.
I’m talking about brain shrinkage.
Brain shrinkage is just what it sounds like: a loss of neurons (and the connections between them) that results in your brain getting smaller.
Brain shrinkage, or “cerebral atrophy” (its official term), can be generalized—meaning the entire brain shrinks at the same rate. This type typically results in a decrease in short-term memory. But brain shrinkage can also target certain areas—which is especially concerning if it occurs in the parts of the brain responsible for conscious thought and voluntary processes.
But, ultimately, both kinds of brain shrinkage can lead to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
And mainstream medicine has no drugs, treatments, or therapies to combat it.
But that doesn’t mean brain shrinkage is something you just have to accept. In fact, recent research has shown two simple supplements may be all you need. And not just to slow brain shrinkage…but actually reverse it.
The future of brain health from an old standby
Last year, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences published an impressive study about one of the most common vitamin combinations on the market—a good old B-complex.
Researchers recruited in 156 patients with an average age of 76. Around half got a daily dose of folic acid (800 mcg), vitamin B6 (20mg) and vitamin B12 (500mcg). The rest got a placebo.
After two years, the researchers found that the group taking the B vitamins experienced a significant reduction in overall brain shrinkage. In fact, some of the participants went from as much as 5.4 percent shrinkage down to just 0.6 percent.
In other words, taking these three simple B vitamins slowed brain shrinkage by 90 percent!
To drive the amazing potential of B vitamins home even further, researchers took MRI scans of patients’ brains and highlighted the specific areas that were protected by the B vitamins. They lined up perfectly with areas normally ravaged by Alzheimer’s disease.
Even more benefits from Bs—for your brain and beyond
B-vitamins don’t just protect against brain shrinkage. They can also have a direct effect on your memory itself. In a study published in 2012, patients taking the same combination of B-vitamins—B6, B12, and folic acid—scored 69 percent better on memory tests than the placebo group.
And don’t forget—B vitamins aren’t just a boon for brain health. They’re essential for a healthy heart. And your body needs B to perform virtually all of its basic metabolic functions (nerve, hormone, etc.), as well as promote red blood cell production, regulate mood—even foster healthy hair, skin and nails.
A bigger brain and a better memory
Another boon in the war against brain shrinkage is something I’ve talked about many times before—fish oil. But it bears repeating. Especially since research on its benefits for brain health is so incredible.
For instance, in February, the journal Neurology published a study examining data from over 1,000 postmenopausal women participating in the Women’s Health Initiative Memory Study. The data spanned eight years, and included the subjects’ levels of EPA and DHA, as well as brain volumes (measured by MRI).
The results were stunning. Women with higher omega-3 levels—and DHA in particular—had significantly larger brain volumes than women with low levels.
Another major benefit: increased size of the hippocampus, which happens to be your brain’s memory center. So you can see why preserving it is so important.
And there are plenty more studies just like this one—all showing fish oil’s positive effects on the brain.
Another one, published several months ago, included 193 Alzheimer’s disease patients, 397 people with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and 229 people with normal brain function. At the beginning of the study, 117 of the participants reported that they regularly used fish oil supplements (and most of them continued to take them throughout the study period). All of the patients underwent cognitive testing and brain imaging at the outset of the study, and then at 6- to 12-month intervals.
The researchers noted that the patients taking fish oil showed less brain shrinkage on scans than the rest of the participants. Plus, those who used fish oil had better scores on cognitive function tests at any given time over the course of the study.
All signs point to this: Consistent, long-term supplementation with a few key nutrients—B vitamins and fish oil—is a key component of warding off brain shrinkage and Alzheimer’s disease.
You can get quality B vitamin supplements in any natural food store or vitamin shop, as well as from online supplement retailers. And upping your intake of foods rich in these nutrients certainly won’t hurt either. Animal products like fish, poultry, meat, and eggs are your best food sources of vitamin B12 (clams and liver are particularly rich in this nutrient). Tuna, chicken, turkey, and cantaloupe offer up a good dose of B6. And spinach and other dark green leafy vegetables are good sources of folic acid.
And make sure to get at least 3,000 mg of EPA and DHA from fish oil every day too.
1. “Preventing Alzheimer’s disease-related gray matter atrophy by B-vitamin treatment.” Proc Natl Acad Sci. 2013; 110(23): 9,523-9,528.
2. “Higher RBC EPA + DHA corresponds with larger total brain and hippocampal volumes.” Neurology 2014 Feb;82(5):435-442
3. “Association of fish oil supplement use with preservation of brain volume and cognitive function.” Alzheimer’s & Dementia 2014, epub ahead of print 6/18/14