Table of Contents
ISRN Nutrition
Volume 2013, Article ID 650983, 7 pages
Review Article

B Vitamins and Cognitive Performance in Older Adults: Review

1School of Social Sciences and Law, Teesside University, Middlesbrough, Tees Valley TS1 3BA, UK
2Department of Psychology, School of Life Sciences, Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 8STl, UK

Received 7 December 2012; Accepted 29 January 2013

Academic Editors: J. M. Huerta, J. K. Prasain, F. Sanchez de Medina, and H. J. Silver

Copyright © 2013 J. L. Reay et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


A copious amount of scientific scrutiny has been dedicated to documenting typical and atypical human ageing, with a substantial body of work focusing upon the impact of lifestyle choices. One such lifestyle choice is that of diet and, in particular, micronutrient ingestion. Epidemiological studies have reported positive associations between B vitamin status and cognitive function, including negative associations between biological markers (i.e., homocysteine) of dysregulated one-carbon metabolism and cognitive function. This has led to a surge of randomised control trials (RCTs) investigations into B vitamin therapy. However, results have continuingly failed to show beneficial behavioural effects. Despite this, results reliably show treatment-related increases in B vitamin level and decreases in homocysteine level—both of which have been identified as risk factors for atypical ageing. In this paper we argue that it would be premature to conclude that B vitamin therapy has no potential and that more research is needed to systematically investigate the optimal dose, the therapeutic “window,” and individual differences in therapy responders and nonresponders. We start with a brief look at one-carbon metabolism and then consider the evidence from epidemiological studies and RCTs in relation to three specific B vitamins: folic acid (B9), pyridoxine (B6), and cobamides (B12).