B vitamins help improve memory

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Dear Pharmacist: I read your Facebook post about improving memory with B vitamins. Can you elaborate more one day? — C.K., Nashville, Tenn.

Dear C.K.: Most people know that ginkgo, vinpocetine, eleuthero and acetyl-L carnitine support memory function, but they don't usually consider the B vitamins brain food like I do. The Bs reduce homocysteine, an amino acid that you create as you break down protein. Too much homocysteine, and you'll constantly forget things. Reducing homocysteine with B vitamins is one of the easiest and most affordable ways to preserve memory.

In 2002, physicians had the data to prove that homocysteine levels correlate with dementia and Alzheimer's risk. The higher the homocysteine, the more damage to your brain. The study was published in The New England Journal of Medicine. The 2005 Framingham Offspring Study printed in the American Journal of Epidemiology concluded high homocysteine levels affect memory.

A simple blood test can determine your homocysteine level. High levels also are associated with heart attack, stroke, blood clots and atherosclerosis. If you have high homocysteine, I recommend supplementing with vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), B12 (methylcobalamin), B2 (riboflavin) and B9 (folate). You can also simplify everything by taking a B complex vitamin.

Medicine raises homocysteine indirectly. Hundreds of medications (including antacids, menopausal hormones, birth control pills, antibiotics, blood pressure drugs and steroids) alter B vitamin levels. Your medicine steals your probiotics too, and you need those to manufacture certain B vitamins in your GI tract. So any drug that steals probiotics (or B2, B6, B12 or folate) can raise your homocysteine level, and therefore contribute to memory loss.

Talk with your doctor about determining your homocysteine level, and ask if you can take a B vitamin because some meds interact.

This information is not intended to treat, cure or diagnose your condition. Go to SuzyCohen.com.
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