B Focused, Your Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Waste

September 17, 2010
Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS

Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS

Award-winning nutritionist and New York Times bestselling author.

83253258High doses of B vitamins prevent memory loss and depression.

Brain atrophy—or gradual wasting of brain tissue—is common as we grow older. The greater the shrinkage, the lower a person’s cognitive function or thinking skills.

Now a randomized, double-blind controlled trial of high-dose B vitamins shows that folic acid, vitamins B6, and B12 slow this process in seniors with mild cognitive decline, a major risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease (AD). These B vitamins can lower levels of homocysteine (a blood protein linked to AD) as much as 32%, this study shows.

Characterized by memory problems and loss of language and other mental functions, mild cognitive impairment (MCI) rarely interferes with daily life. But about half of those diagnosed with MCI develop mind-wasting AD within five years.

“This is a very dramatic and striking result,” says study author David Smith, professor at Oxford University’s department of pharmacology, since there are few treatments—and no cure—for Alzheimer’s. “It’s much more than we could have predicted.”

Dr. Ann Louise’s Take:

I’m delighted to see scientists are at last paying attention to homocysteine, which I’ve long considered an important risk factor for all forms of vascular disorders—coronary artery disease, diabetic cardiomyopathy, peripheral vascular disease, and stroke, as well as vascular dementia.

Recent research at Penn State College of Medicine also reports that early intervention with vitamin B12 supplementation can reverse nervous system dysfunction. No wonder that a deficiency in this B vitamin has repeatedly been linked to depression—at any age.

A recent study in the journal Psychopharmacology shows that supplementing with high-dose B complex improves mental health and energy, improves cognitive performance during intense mental processing, and improves study volunteers’ ratings of stress—even in healthy, non-elderly adults. And recent research in the Psychosomatic Medicine links low levels of folate, vitamin B6, and B12 with depression in teens.

Especially for Women
Critical in preventing birth defects early in pregnancy, folic acid helps prevent fatigue, brain fog, headaches, and moodiness in women. Sadly, some experts suggest that 80% of women are deficient in this B vitamin.

I consider vitamin B6, in particular, to be “women’s guardian angel,” because it relieves perimenopausal symptoms, including bloating and water retention, mood swings, and even skin eruptions. This B also balances tissue levels of magnesium, the anti-stress mineral, and also regulates the estrogen-progesterone ratio, alleviating anxiety, irritability, and nervous tension.

Besides controlling homocysteine, vitamin B12 enhances metabolism of bone-building osteoblasts, aiding in bone remodeling, and critical in strong bones. But this B is often deficient in older adults—30% of whom lack a chemical known as “intrinsic factor” needed for this vitamin’s absorption. And a number of medications—antibiotics, antivirals, cholesterol-lowering drugs, and meds to control diabetes and ulcers—can lead to B12 deficiency.

While specific B’s appear effective on their own, most nutritionists—myself included—find that, since B vitamins impact each others’ absorption and metabolism, a complete B-complex is the most effective supplement. Pioneer endocrinologist Guy Abraham, MD, emphasizes that a woman’s liver needs all the B’s to change excess estrogen—so common today due to hormone disrupting chemicals in the environment—into its metabolically useful form.

That’s why I recommend B-Complex Forte, which is one of the highest potency B complex formulas on the market and is also yeast free. Because they’re water-soluble, B vitamins are easily lost in cooking and processing foods. Stress, medications, and a low-carb diet can also contribute to vitamin B deficiencies.

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Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS, is an award-winning New York Times bestselling author of more than thirty books including The Fat Flush Plan series and her latest book, Radical Metabolism. She’s been rewriting the rules of nutrition for more than 40 years and is internationally recognized as a pioneer in the field of diet, detox and women’s health issues. 

For a FREE daily dose of tips and strategies for maintaining healthy weight, conquering insomnia, and much more…check out my Radical Health Tips.

I’d like to meet and greet you on my Facebook groups, so won’t you check us out at the Radical Metabolism RevolutionFat Flush Nation, or my Inner Circle!


  1. Jan

    Is B complex in a daily multi enough? Or should I take B-Complex Forte too with another meal?

  2. Randal

    Should additional doses of B12, B6, and folic acid be taken beyond the enhanced B complex now being taken on a daily basis?

  3. Nash

    Antacids can mask symptoms of serious disease. Antacids also decrease the absorption of vitamin B12 .

  4. Administrator

    We believe that the B complex forte is a helpful adjunct to a multi. We don’t suggest extra B-12 by itself unless you are tested!

  5. sue

    I’m taking female multiple and i am also taking b12 is this to much b12?

  6. Joel

    Sue- The Female Multiple covers most peoples needs for B12, if you feel you have a deficiency is probably best to get tested to establish need.


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