According to new research, drinking two glasses of milk every day could help protect against memory loss and Alzheimer's disease in old age. Researchers from the University of Oxford have discovered that milk is one of the best sources of a key vitamin thought to reduce the neurological damage to the brain that can lead to various forms of dementia including Alzheimer's disease.

Elderly patients with low levels of vitamin B12 suffered twice as much shrinkage of the brain as those with higher levels of the vitamin in their bodies and it is hoped that by increasing their intake of vitamin B12 it will help to slow cognitive decline. The researchers are now conducting a clinical trial aiming to show that it is possible to treat memory problems in the elderly with vitamin supplements (from reading The Alzheimer's Alternative you will know that it is - and that B12 has already been proven - but at least it is another confirmation!)

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.

He said: "These patients have had nerve cells that have died, so it is unlikely we are ever going to be able to find ways of repairing that damage or treating them with drugs. Instead we have to look at preventing it in the first place. 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."

It is thought that vitamin B12 is essential for maintaining the sheath that forms around and insulates nerve cells. Without adequate levels of the vitamin, this sheath cannot be kept in a good functional state, leading the cells to malfunction and die.

Vitamin B12 is one of the eight B vitamins and is found mainly in meat, fish and dairy products and whilst meat has higher levels of vitamin B12 it is often poorly absorbed when eaten by the elderly. Despite milk having a lower concentration of vitamin B12 than meat its absorption was much greater (and fish were second).

Vitamin B12 works closely with Folic acid (vitamin B9) and Pyridoxine (vitamin B6) to convert food into energy. It also works with these B vitamins to protect your heart by removing homocysteine from the blood and therefore I would recommend a good vitamin B complex where you get all of the supplements together. If this is not possible I suggest a dose of between 1.5 - 2.5mg of vitamin B12 sublingually (under the tongue) as being beneficial.

As an aside I would recommend that the milk is given in the form of a chocolate milk shake. It has been found that not only do the subjects receive the same vitamins they also get anti-oxidants and flavanoids from the chocolate (as long as it is real chocolate and not just flavouring!). This combination has been shown to drastically improve energy and vitality - especially if given after mild exercise such as an afternoon walk!

"Dietary sources of vitamin B-12 and their association with plasma vitamin B-12 concentrations in the general population: the Hordaland Homocysteine Study." Vogiatzoglou, A., Smith, A.D., Nurk, E. et al. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. February 3, 2009

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Steffan H. Abel D.C. has been involved in Chiropractic and healthcare research for over 20 years. He has run his own successful practice in the north of England for the last 19 years. During which time he has treated over 10,000 patients and given over 100,000 treatments. He has lectured and taught extensively in both Europe and America to students, chiropractors and medical doctors.

He has studied Hypnotherapy, N.L.P. and qualified as a Life Coach. He has also studied various Chiropractic-based treatments (gaining a M.Sc. in post graduate Clinical Chiropractic in 2003) as well as energy therapies such as Seichem and Reiki. In 2001 he became a Fellow of the College of Chiropractors and a Fellow of the Association of Osteomyology and in 2007 became a Fellow of the European Academy of Chiropractic.

In his spare time he spends between 15 and 25 hours per week researching all areas of “alternative” and allopathic healthcare in order to bring the best advice to his patients through his practice and writing and has just finished his latest book The Alzheimer's Alternative ( When not working he is to be found enjoying life with Sue, his partner, – whom he loves tremendously!

Additional Resources covering Alzheimers can be found at:

Website Directory for Alzheimers
Articles on Alzheimers
Products for Alzheimers
Discussion Board
Dr. Steffan H. Abel, the Official Guide to Alzheimers