London, Mar 1 (ANI): Just two glasses of milk a day can help prevent Alzheimer's disease in old age, suggests a new study.
University of Oxford researchers have identified a vitamin that is believed to cut neurological damage to the brain that can lead to dementia.
They have found that older adults with low levels of the vitamin B12 suffer twice as much shrinkage of the brain as those with higher levels of the vitamin in their bodies.
The researchers suggest that increasing vitamin B12 intake in elderly could help slow cognitive decline.
Professor David Smith, from the Oxford Project to Investigate Memory and Ageing, said drinking just two glasses of milk a day would be enough to increase levels of vitamin B12 to an adequate level.
"Our study shows that consuming around half a litre of milk or more per day, and it can be skimmed milk, could take someone who has marginal levels of B12 into the safe range. But even drinking just two glasses a day can protect against having low levels," the Telegraph quoted him as saying.
While meat contain some of the highest levels of the vitamin B12, it was poorly absorbed by the body when eaten.
Professor Smith, along with scientists from Oslo University and Bergen University, in Norway, found the highest levels of vitamin B12 absorbed by the body came from milk, despite having lower B12 concentrations than meat.
The study showed that around 55 per cent of the vitamin in milk entered the blood stream.
"In meat, B12 can be tightly bound to protein and this bond has to be broken down by acid in the stomach before the body can use it," said Smith.
"Older people have lower levels of acid and so it is much harder for them to get B12 from certain foods. In milk, the binding is readily reversible," he added.
During the study, brain scans of patients who have a vitamin B12 deficiency have revealed that they suffer more brain loss, or atrophy, than those with higher intake of the vitamin.
"We are currently preparing to unmask a two-year trial of 180 people over the age of 70 with memory problems, who were either given Vitamin B12 or a placebo," he said.
"We have been taking volumetric MRI scans to look at whether the vitamin treatment has slowed down the atrophy in the brain," he added.
The research is published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. (ANI)