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X Fact
June 14, 2021
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Alzheimer's, B Vitamins and Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Brain atrophy (shrinkage) is common in older people, but especially pronounced for individuals who develop Alzheimer's disease. It has also been noticed, that low levels of omega-3 fatty acids and elevated homocysteine (usually due to deficiency of folate, vitamins B12 and B6 and choline) are associated with brain atrophy.

In a clinical study of 168 people (over 70y) with mild cognitive impairment, a daily dose of folic acid (0.8mg), B12 (0.5mg) and B6 (20mg) vs placebo was administered for 2 years. At the end of the study (called VITACOG), MRIs were performed to see if the B vitamin cocktail had any effect on the progression of brain atrophy.

It did, and the results weren't subtle. Compared to the placebo group (n=83), the brain atrophy rate in the B vitamin treatment group (n=85) was slowed by 40%. This is a dramatic result, but there is a catch. This only occurred in the group in which the omega-3 levels at baseline were high (>590umol/L). B vitamins had no significant impact when the omega-3 fatty acid levels were low (<390umol/L).

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Brain Atrophy
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Brain Atrophy

Brain atrophy — or cerebral atrophy — is the loss of brain cells called neurons. Atrophy also destroys the connections that help the cells communicate. It can be a result of many different diseases that damage the brain, including stroke and Alzheimer’s disease.

Who Wrote This X Fact
Jonathan Bortz MD
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Jonathan’s background as a practicing diabetes specialist for 15 years and 17-year career developing nutritional prescriptive products for the pharmaceutical industry has contributed to his ability to understand nutrients, how they work and why they are important.

Over the years he has acquired broad and in-depth knowledge in minerals, essential fatty acids and other nutrients, but has special expertise in Vitamin B12 and choline metabolism. He is often asked to speak at national and international venues to articulate why B12, folate and choline are so important to gene function, brain development, liver and cardiovascular health. He applies pharmaceutical standards to nutrient science and has developed a unique ability to translate complicated concepts into simple promotional messages that resonate with practitioners and consumers. He has developed dozens of innovative nutritional products, of which many are category leaders in the US. Jonathan obtained his medical degree from the University of the Witwatersrand Medical School in South Africa and did his fellowship in Endocrinology at Washington University in St. Louis, MO.

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