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A follow-up study went further by demonstrating that B vitamin treatment reduces, by as much as sevenfold, the brain atrophy in the regions specifically vulnerable to the Alzheimer’s disease process.
Here’s the amount of brain atrophy over two years in the placebo group; here’s the amount of loss in the B vitamin group. Now the beneficial effect of B vitamins was confined to those with high homocysteine, indicating a relative deficiency in one of those three vitamins.
So, wouldn’t it be better to not get deficient in the first place?
Most people get enough B12 and B6, but the reason these folks were stuck up at a homocysteine of 11 is that they probably weren’t getting enough folate, which is found predominantly in beans and greens.
In 1990, a small study of 22 Alzheimer’s patients reported they had high concentrations of something called homocysteine in their blood.
The homocysteine story goes back to 1969, when a Harvard pathologist reported two cases of children, one dating back to 1933, whose brains had turned to mush.
One week on a plant-based diet can significantly drop blood levels of homocysteine, a toxin associated with cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease.
Without vitamin B12 supplementation, though, a long-term plant-based diet could make things worse.
An intermittent rate of shrinkage is found in people with mild cognitive impairment.
96% of Americans don’t even make the minimum recommended amount of dark green leafy vegetables, the same pitiful number who don’t eat the minimum recommendation for beans.
In fact, if you put people on a healthy diet, a plant-based diet, you can drop their homocysteine levels 20% in just one week–up from around 11 down to 9.
The fact that they showed significant homocysteine lowering without any pills, without supplements–even at one week–suggests that multiple mechanisms may have been at work. Every gram of daily fiber consumption may increase folate levels in the blood nearly 2%, perhaps by boosting vitamin production in our colon by our friendly gut bacteria.
It also could be from the decreased methionine intake.