Spiral Chef News: Taking B Vitamins with Coffee helps Protect Brain

(The following are news items and opinions. This is not medical advice.)

It’s really quite amazing how good this drink is for your memory. But did you know there’s one thing you can take with your coffee to make it work even better? The authors of a study looked at a lot of nutrient and lifestyle factors to see if anything could enhance coffee’s brain-preserving attributes. Only one thing did – B-vitamins. Vitamins B12, B6, and folic acid to be specific.

What is it about coffee that makes it preserve brain function better? The authors theorized that coffee has a direct protective effect on the brain and nervous system in general. They point out that coffee has already been shown to decrease the amount of brain lesions that occur with aging including increased white matter lesions and small vessel hemorrhages called microvascular ischemic lesions. Several studies in mice that were bred to develop Alzheimer’s have shown that caffeine actually reduces the amount of these plaques and improves memory.

Coffee is also loaded with many other constituents such as polyphenols, which are protective of the nerves. Remember that taking caffeine outside of coffee didn’t work. So clearly there is something else in coffee besides the caffeine that is at work.

But what about side effects? Lots of people insist that coffee is bad for you. It’s acidic. It’s a diuretic. It transiently raises your cholesterol. It increases your heart rate. Surely there must have been side effects. Not so fast. A recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition looked at 11,697 nurses. Many of them drank in excess of four cups per day. They followed the nurses for 24 years. The authors noted that in all these women over all that time, how much coffee they drank did not affect their health or death rate one bit.Just be sure to get organic coffee. You don’t need all the contamination of non-organic coffee.

Researchers at the University of California at Irvine gave the human dose equivalent of 2,000 to 3,000 mg of vitamin B3 to mice with Alzheimer’s. (2) It worked. Kim Green, one of the researchers, is quoted as saying, “Cognitively, they were cured. They performed as if they’d never developed the disease.”

Supplementing with vitamin B6 (20mg), B12 (500mcg), niacinamide (400 mg) and folic acid (400mcg) is a sensible precaution. People with raised homocysteine need higher supplemental vitamin intake to prevent brain shrinkage.

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