The C.A.M. Report
Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Fair, Balanced, and to the Point
  • About this web log

    This blog is intended as an objective and dispassionate source of information on the latest CAM research. Since my background is in pharmacy and allopathic medicine, I view all CAM as advancing through the development pipeline to eventually become integrated into mainstream medical practice. Some will succeed while others fail. But all are treated fairly here.

  • About the author

    John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.

  • Common sense considerations

    The material on this weblog is for informational purposes. It is not medical advice or counsel. Be smart, consult your health professional before using CAM.

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    B vitamins and the risk of dementia

    Researchers at Harvard Medical School, in Boston, examined the effect of taking folic acid, vitamin B-12, and vitamin B-6 on cognitive change in women with cardiovascular disease or risk factors cardiovascular disease.

    First, the details.

    • 5442 female health professionals with at least 3 coronary risk factors were randomly assigned to a treatment group.
    • They tested the effect of different combinations of B vitamins (2.5 mg folic acid/day, 50 mg vitamin B-6/day, and 1 mg vitamin B-12/day).
    • Testing of cognitive function was conducted over the phone up to 4 times over 5.4 years using 5 tests of general cognition, verbal memory, and category fluency.
      • Cognitive function includes “thinking”, “feeling”, “sensing,” and “intuition.”

    And, the results.

    • Over the time of the study, cognitive change from baseline did not differ between the B vitamin and placebo groups.
    • However, the results suggest that supplementation with B vitamins may have helped preserve cognition among women with a low dietary intake of B vitamins at the start of the study.
      • The cutoff for a “low” intake of vitamin B-6 was 1.9 mg/day and for folate 279 grams/day.

    The bottom line?

    The authors concluded, “Combined B vitamin supplementation did not delay cognitive decline among women with cardiovascular disease or cardiovascular disease risk factors. The possible cognitive benefits of supplementation among women with a low dietary intake of B vitamins warrant further study.”

    Only in the small segment of the population who have low dietary intakes of folate, vitamin B-6, and vitamin B-12 might taking these supplements help preserve cognitive function.

    12/3/11 10:36 JR

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