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Vitamin B12 May Protect Against Brain Shrinkage in Baby Boomers

These findings should be of special interest to baby boomers now entering their 60s. It could be a good idea to consult with a physician about B-12 shots.

A study conducted by researchers at the Oxford Project to Investigate Memory and Ageing (OPTIMA) found that people with higher levels of vitamin B12 were six times less likely to experience brain volume loss.

Vitamin B12, a nutrient found in meat, fish and milk, may protect against brain volume loss in older people. The researchers studied 107 volunteers age 61 to 87 who did not have cognitive impairment when they volunteered. The volunteers underwent yearly MRI brain scans, cognitive and memory tests and physical exams for five years.

This study suggests that simply adjusting our diets to consume more vitamin B12 through eating meat, fish, fortified cereals or milk may be something we can easily adjust to prevent brain shrinkage and so perhaps save our memory, says Anna Vogiatzoglou of the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics at Oxford University. Research shows that vitamin B12 deficiency is a public health problem, especially among the elderly, so more vitamin B12 intake could help reverse this problem. Without carrying out a clinical trial, we acknowledge that it is still not known whether B12 supplementation would actually make a difference in elderly persons at risk for brain shrinkage.


Vitamin B12 may protect the brain in old age

Vitamin B12, a nutrient found in meat, fish and milk, may protect against brain volume loss in older people, according to a University of Oxford study.

For the study, 107 people between the ages of 61 and 87 underwent brain scans, memory testing and physical exams. The researchers from the Oxford Project to Investigate Memory and Ageing (OPTIMA) also collected blood samples to check vitamin B12 levels. Brain scans and memory tests were also performed again five years later.

The study, published in the journal Neurology, found that people who had higher vitamin B12 levels were six times less likely to experience brain shrinkage compared with those who had lower levels of the vitamin in their blood. None of the people in the study had vitamin B12 deficiency.

Many factors that affect brain health are thought to be out of our control, but this study suggests that simply adjusting our diets to consume more vitamin B12 through eating meat, fish, fortified cereals or milk may be something we can easily adjust to prevent brain shrinkage and so perhaps save our memory,” says Anna Vogiatzoglou of the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics at Oxford University. “Research shows that vitamin B12 deficiency is a public health problem, especially among the elderly, so more vitamin B12 intake could help reverse this problem. Without carrying out a clinical trial, we acknowledge that it is still not known whether B12 supplementation would actually make a difference in elderly persons at risk for brain shrinkage.”

Previous research on the vitamin has had mixed results and few studies have been done specifically with brain scans in elderly populations. We tested for vitamin B12 levels in a unique, more accurate way by looking at two certain markers for it in the blood,” adds Ms Vogiatzoglou.

Ms Vogiatzoglou says the study did not look at whether taking vitamin B12 supplements would have the same effect on memory.

The study was supported by the UK Alzheimer’s Research Trust, the Medical Research Council, the Charles Wolfson Charitable Trust, the Norwegian Foundation for Health and Rehabilitation through the Norwegian Health Association, Axis-Shield plc and the Johan Throne Holst Foundation for Nutrition Research.

For more information please contact Professor David Smith on david.smith@pharm.ox.ac.uk

Or the Press Office, University of Oxford, 01865 280528, press.office@admin.ox.ac.uk.

* OPTIMA, the Oxford Project to Investigate Memory and Ageing, is tackling one of the great medical and social challenges of our time: the diseases of the ageing brain. It aims to deepen our understanding of the changes that occur in the brain as we age, in a longitudinal study of normal volunteers and patients with memory problems. In revealing the differences between normal brain ageing and diseases like Alzheimer’s disease, OPTIMA will lay the foundations for the development of new forms of prevention and treatment. http://www.medsci.ox.ac.uk/optima

* Oxford University’s Medical Sciences Division is one of the largest biomedical research centres in Europe. It represents almost one-third of Oxford University’s income and expenditure, and two-thirds of its external research income. Oxford’s world-renowned global health programme is a leader in the fight against infectious diseases (such as malaria, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and avian flu) and other prevalent diseases (such as cancer, stroke, heart disease and diabetes). Key to its success is a long-standing network of dedicated Wellcome Trust-funded research units in Asia (Thailand, Laos and Vietnam) and Kenya, and work at the MRC Unit in The Gambia. Long-term studies of patients around the world are supported by basic science at Oxford and have led to many exciting developments, including potential vaccines for tuberculosis, malaria and HIV, which are in clinical trials.

Original content the Alzheimer’s Reading Room

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Are you Genetically Predisposed to Alzheimer’s Disease?

I meet many people that worry they might be genetically predisposed to Alzheimer’s by birth. Some of them tell me they would like to know, others say they don’t want to know. As the number of people suffering from Alzheimer’s grows this is certain to become a major medical issue nationally.

Myriad Genetics has a genetic test for breast cancer. Their BRACAnalysis® assesses a woman’s risk of developing breast or ovarian cancer. BRACAnalysis is a genetic test that requires only a blood sample to determine whether a patient has a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation, indicating a predisposition to hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. The test is expensive but might be covered by insurance. Author note: I worked on the start-up financing for Myriad Genetics.

In a just released research study, researchers are looking at specific blood markers and may be able to detect a person’s predisposition to Alzheimer’s. This is exciting news. I know from personal experience with my mother that early detection is important and does effect outcomes. I am also aware of cases where families waited to take action and the result usually means a quicker onset of the debilitating disease. If you suspect Alzheimer’s or dementia you must take immediate action. If you had a severe chest pain you would call 9-1-1 wouldn’t you?


Related post Alzheimer’s Disease Genetics Study

Researchers Seeking to Identify Alzheimer’s Risk with New Biomarkers Make Significant Progress by Focusing on a Specific Blood Marker

Blood Test Could Give People Advance Warning of Disease, Allowing for Earlier Intervention

A simple blood test to detect whether a person might develop Alzheimer’s disease is within sight and could eventually help scientists in their quest toward reversing the disease’s onset in those likely to develop the debilitating neurological condition, Columbia University Medical Center researchers announced today.

Building on a study that started 20 years ago with an elderly population in Northern Manhattan at risk or in various stages of developing Alzheimer’s disease, the Columbia research group has yielded ground-breaking findings that could change the way the disease is treated or someday prevent it. These findings suggest that by looking at the blood doctors may be able to detect a person’s predisposition to developing the dementia-inducing disease that robs a person of their memory and ability carry out tasks essential to life.

Results presented online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences during the week of Sept. 8, 2008 suggest that individuals with elevated levels of a certain peptide in the blood plasma, Amyloid Beta 42 (Aß42), are at increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and that the decline of Aß42 in the bloodstream may reflect the compartmentalization or “traffic jam” of Aß42 in the brain, which occurs in people with Alzheimer’s.

“To date, Aß42 levels have measured most reliably in the cerebrospinal fluid, which is more difficult to collect than blood,” said Nicole Schupf, Ph.D., Dr.P.H., associate professor of clinical epidemiology at Columbia University Medical Center and lead author of the paper. “Blood draws can be done with relative ease and greater frequency than spinal taps, which is typically the way cerebrospinal fluid is collected.”

In this study, researchers found that plasma levels of Aß42 appear to increase before the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and decline shortly after the onset of dementia. Researchers surmise that Aß42 may become trapped in the brain, which could account for the decrease in levels post-dementia.

The principal investigator on the Northern Manhattan study, Richard Mayeux, M.D., M.S., professor of neurology, psychiatry, and epidemiology, and co-director of the Taub Institute of Research on Alzheimer’s Disease and the Aging Brain at CUMC, likens the finding to something similar that is seen in heart attack patients, who typically have elevated lipid levels in their bloodstream prior to a heart attack, but post-heart attack lipid levels may decrease.

Using more specific antibodies developed by the Ravetch Laboratory at Rockefeller University, the researchers were able to hone in on the most detrimental form of amyloid compound, the protofibrillar form of Aß, according to Dr. Mayeux, who is the senior author of this paper.

While the cognitive impairments of Alzheimer’s can be monitored throughout the disease course, clinicians have had no reliable way to monitor the pathologic progression of the disease. Being able to reliably measure Aß levels in the blood could provide clinicians with a tool that forecasts the onset of Alzheimer’s much earlier. Earlier detection would of course be an important step in combating the disease, researchers said.

This research is supported by a Program Project Grant by the National Institutes’ of Health National Institute of Aging. Other authors on the paper from Columbia University Medical Center include Ming X. Tang, Ph.D., Jennifer Manly, Ph.D., and Howard Andrews, Ph.D. The Department of Immunology at the New York State Institute for Basic Research in Developmental Disabilities, Staten Island, New York, also contributed to this research. An image of a brain tissue coated with amyloid plaque is available upon request, as is a copy of the PNAS paper.

– ### –

The Taub Institute for Research on Alzheimer’s Disease and the Aging Brain at Columbia University Medical Center is a multidisciplinary group that has forged links between researchers and clinicians to uncover the causes of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other age-related brain diseases and discover ways to prevent and cure these diseases. Taub neuroscientists partner with researchers at the Gertrude H. Sergievsky Center at Columbia University Medical Center, which was established by an endowment in 1977 to focus on diseases of the nervous system. The Sergievsky Center integrates traditional epidemiology with genetic analysis and clinical investigation to explore all phases of diseases of the nervous system. For more information about these CUMC centers visit: http://www.cumc.columbia.edu/dept/taub/ or
http://www.cumc.columbia.edu/dept/sergievsky/.

Columbia University Medical Center provides international leadership in basic, pre-clinical and clinical research, in medical and health sciences education, and in patient care. The medical center trains future leaders and includes the dedicated work of many physicians, scientists, public health professionals, dentists, and nurses at the College of Physicians & Surgeons, the Mailman School of Public Health, the College of Dental Medicine, the School of Nursing, the biomedical departments of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and allied research centers and institutions. Established in 1767, Columbia’s College of Physicians & Surgeons was the first institution in the country to grant the M.D. degree and is among the most selective medical schools in the country. Columbia University Medical Center is home to the largest medical research enterprise in New York City and state and one of the largest in the United States. For more information, please visit www.cumc.columbia.edu.

Original Content The Alzheimer’s Reading Room

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The 36-Hour Day

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This best-selling book is the “bible” for families caring for people with Alzheimer disease. The book is ranked the number one best seller in three categories on Amazon: Alzheimer’s disease, Caregiving, and Eldercare. It carries a five star review from customers.


The 36-Hour Day: A Family Guide to Caring for People with Alzheimer Disease and Memory Loss in Later Life

In addition to the practical and compassionate guidance that have made The 36-Hour Day invaluable to caregivers, the fourth edition includes new information on medical research and the delivery of care.


This edition includes:

new information on diagnostic evaluation-resources for families and adult children who care for people with dementia-updated legal and financial information-the latest information on nursing homes and other communal living arrangements-new information on research, medications, and the biological causes and effects of dementia.


Tami Greene said…

This book has been the single most helpful tool my family has been given to help us help my mother as she progresses with Alzheimer’s Disease. While other books have touched on many of the topics in this book, no where else have we found as much practical information on how to avoid confrontations with her; ways to improve her daily living; ideas to keep her involved with us and to provide meaning to her life; questions to ask her doctors; types of resources that are available (depending on your area); what to expect as the disease progresses; and how to help each other as we take on the many different roles needed to provide care for her.

I highly recommend this book to others; in fact, I have purchased multiple copies to share with family members and donate to my local library – that’s how helpful and important this book is!

Arthur Jones said…

This is a excellent book and reference for those learning to deal with Alzheimer. Plenty of resources and ideas of what to look for when caring for someone with this disease. You can get a good idea of what to expect and how to help those suffering with this devastating disease. Easy to understand and read. Can’t recommend this book enough.

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Helping those who help others: the Modified Caregiver Strain Index

I found this video to be wonderfully enlightening. I suggest that all Caregivers and family/friends of caregivers take the time to view this video. Often overlooked, caregivers can suffer from depression. The job tends to wear you down over time.

The Modified Caregiver Strain Index helps to determine the level of strain a caregiver is experiencing. The combination of stress and burden does effect a caregivers’ overall health. The index assesses 13 aspects of physical health, family finances, social interactions, time demands, and employment. By identifying the sources and degree of strain, the index can help in the selection of interventions that can be used to alleviate caregivers’ strain and improve the lives of caregivers and care recipients.

To watch this free video Helping those who help others follow the link. Please be patient at the start up. While this video was designed for nurses I believe it is useful for anyone trying to understand the issues faced by caregivers. If you suspect a caregiver you know is suffering from depression you will want to see this video. It should serve as a wake-up call for children who have an elderly parent serving as a Caregiver.

Original content The Caregiver

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The Brain and Alzheimer’s

Sometimes I get asked a question about the brain and how Alzheimer’s is effecting the brain.

I ran across this very interesting tour of the brain on the website of the Alzheimer’s Association. The tour explains brain basics and how Alzheimer’s effects the brain. This should help give you a better understanding of the causes of the illness.

Inside the Brain: an Interactive Tour

 
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Posted by on September 9, 2008 in alzheimer's, bob demarco, brain, health, science, tour

 

Alzheimer’s Disease Genetics Study

I want to alert you to an ongoing clinical trial that is designed to identify the genes that are responsible for causing Alzheimer’s Disease. This could be important to all of us who are predisposed to Alzheimer’s by birth. The investigators are searching for families with multiple incidences of Alzheimer’s disease. The study sponsored by the National Institute on Aging (NIA) is ambitious and they are seeking 3000 participants. They are recruiting nationally.

The purpose of the Alzheimer’s Disease Genetics Study is to identify the genes that are responsible for causing Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). One of the ways in which the risk factor genes for late onset AD can be investigated is by identifying and collecting genetic material from families with multiple members diagnosed with late onset AD (over 60 years of age).

You can read more about the study by visiting the clinical trials page or read more specifics of the study on the next page.

Related content Are you Genetically Predisposed to Alzheimer’s Disease?

Detailed Description:

The purpose of the Alzheimer’s Disease Genetics Study is to identify the genes that are responsible for causing Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). One of the ways in which the risk factor genes for late onset AD can be investigated is by identifying and collecting genetic material from families with multiple members diagnosed with late onset AD (over 60 years of age). Families meeting the criteria will have any two living family members diagnosed with AD with an onset of age 60 or older and at least one other affected or unaffected relative willing to participate. Families will be evaluated for a medical diagnosis and other factors. If eligible, blood samples will be collected from the participants to establish cell lines. If one of the identified family members is deceased, DNA will be extracted and stored from autopsy samples. Qualifying families will have a minimum of 3 members participating in the study: any two living family members diagnosed with AD with an onset at age 60 or older and a third member who must have an age of onset greater than 50, if affected, and 60 or older, if unaffected. The goal is to recruit 1,000 families in three years. This research will include a collection of samples from ethnic/minority populations and other special populations, including African Americans, the Amish, Hispanics, Asian Americans, and Japanese-Americans. Persons interested in registering to participate in this study can call the toll-free NCRAD number 1-800-526-2839 for more information. Local study sites are located all over the United States, and arrangements may be made for eligible families who do not live near a participating site.

Local sites, including the NIA-sponsored Alzheimer’s Disease Centers, will collect clinical and demographic data from these families, and the sites will send coded data (without identifiers) to the National Cell Repository for Alzheimer’s Disease (NCRAD) at Indiana University. The biological samples and data from these families will be available to qualified researchers, who must sign a Materials Transfer Agreement (to protect the privacy rights of participants in this study and to agree to share the results of genetic analyses) before receiving DNA and data. An oversight committee known as the Cell Bank Advisory Committee (CBAC) and the Coordinator of the NIA Alzheimer’s Disease Genetics Study, Richard Mayeux, MD, Columbia University, will review and monitor the process of family identification and enrollment, data collection, and the establishment of cell lines. This repository of DNA and cell lines was developed in hopes of discovering risk factor genes that contribute to late onset AD.

Eligibility
Genders Eligible for Study: Both
Accepts Healthy Volunteers: Yes

Contacts
Contact: Study Coordinator 1-800-526-2839
alzstudy@iupui.edu

More Information

NCRAD: the National Cell Repository for Alzheimer’s Disease

Responsible Party: National Cell Repository for Alzheimer’s Disease (NCRAD) ( Tatiana M Foroud )
Study ID Numbers: IA0042, NIH grant U24 AG21886
First Received: July 14, 2003
Last Updated: February 20, 2008
ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT00064870
Health Authority: United States: Federal Government

Original Content The Alzheimer’s Reading Room

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UCSF Memory and Aging Center

I just visited the UCSF Memory and Aging Center for the first time. This new YouTube channel set up by UCSF is designed to educate patients, caregivers and health professionals about the various forms of neurodegenerative diseases. This is a great new vehicle and you can subscribe for free.

You can go to the website for a video that explains their mission.

Go here to learn more about Alzheimer’s and Frontotemporal Dementia.

This video caught my attention: Loss of moral reasoning and sense of self. While I have not experienced this problem with my mother, I am often asked about moral reasoning and how to deal with this.

 
 
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