Recent studies have shown the great benefits of the B-complex vitamins, especially folic acid, B6 and B12. Following are reasons to supplement these to your diet, in higher dosages than previously recommended.

As we age, we lose brain volume at a rate of about 2% per decade-this is considered normal aging. Accelerated atrophy is linked to dementia and Alzheimer’s. British researchers have found that older men and women who had low levels of B12 had a sixfold greater risk in brain volume loss.

Homocysteine (hmc) is a toxic amino acid that damages the arteries, and is a risk factor for heart disease. Several trials show that adding folic acid, B6, and B12, which lower hmc, reduce the risk of stroke and heart disease.

There is also a link between hmc and osteoporosis. Lowering hmc by using the B-complex vitamins helps bones stay strong.

Harvard scientists report that women who supplemented with daily folic acid, B6, and B12 had a reduced risk of developing age-related macular degeneration.

Another study involving more than 5000 women showed that by taking folic acid, B6, and B12 for seven years had a 38% decrease in breast cancer and 25% reduction in other cancers.

B12 is a well-known energy booster.

Johns Hopkins researchers have discovered that individuals with low levels of folic acid are at an increased risk of skin and respiratory allergies, and asthma.

Telomeres are protective coverings on the ends of chromosomes that shorten every time a cell divides-their length is a marker of aging. As cells get older, telomeres get shorter. A recent NIH study showed that people who took multi-vitamins or B12 had longer telomeres.

There’s more: folic acid prevents neural tube birth defects and pregnancy complications, and in very high doses dramatically reduces the damage to the heart muscle after a heart attack. B12 has been used to improve Bell’s palsy, infertility in men, diabetic neuropathy. The special form of B6, pyridoxamine, is a potent therapy for kidney failure and heart disease.

remember, the B vitamins are water-soluble, thus, toxicity is not an issue (remember, B6 should be in the form of pyridoxamine). Dr. Whitaker recommends these dosages for healthy people: 800mcg for folic acid, 150 mcg for B12, and 75 mg for B6. If you have high homocysteine levels, you can take up to 6000 mcg of folic acid, 2000 mcg of B12, and 125 mg of B6.

Health tip. High temps can destroy up to 30% of the vitamins in veges, so steam them or microwave. You can also eat them raw. Cooking actually increases the antioxidants in carrots, spinach, and tomatoes. Flash frozen is another option.

Stay well, John R Blilie, M.S.