- Study found that too much or too little thiamine is associated with cognitive decline
- Thiamine can be found in common cereal brands such as Kellogg’s and General Mills.
- READ MORE: Health warning about vitamin added to breakfast cereals and bread
While enjoying your favorite cereal may bring back memories of watching morning cartoons in front of a bowl, enjoying your childhood breakfast may actually increase your risk of dementia.
TO study published in the journal General Psychiatry found a link between thiamine, commonly found in grains, and cognitive decline in otherwise healthy people as they age.
Thiamine, or vitamin B1, is found naturally in some foods, while in others it is added and sold as a supplement. It helps convert food into energy and feed the body’s nervous system.
Sources of the vitamin include whole grains, legumes, liver, salmon, and fortified breakfast cereals. In the United States, thiamine can be found in common cereal brands such as Kellogg’s and General Mills.
However, research has now found a strong association between too much or too little thiamine consumption and cognitive decline.
The “sweet spot” for how much thiamine to consume, according to research, is 0.68 mg per day, calling into question the US government’s recommended daily value for this vitamin.
Sources of thiamine include whole grains, legumes, liver, salmon, and fortified breakfast cereals.
The researchers said: “Thiamin deficiency can lead to insufficient energy supply to neurons in the brain… which can impair cognitive function… our study highlights the importance of maintaining optimal levels of thiamine intake in the diet in the general elderly population to prevent cognitive decline.’
The study analyzed data from the China Health and Nutrition Survey (CHNS), which included 3,100 people between 1989 and 2011 who reported on their diet and took cognitive tests four times between 1997 and 2006.
The average age of a study subject was 63 years old and the tests included word recall and number pattern challenges.
Over the course of follow-ups, the researchers found a J-shaped curve-shaped association between thiamine consumption and a decrease in scores on cognitive tests.
The J-shaped curve means that two small amounts or too much of thiamine can have adverse effects, but there is a “sweet spot” or ideal amount along the curve.
The average thiamine intake among study subjects was 0.93 mg per day. The J-shaped curve revealed that the ideal amount was 0.68 mg per day, but that a range between 0.6 mg and 1.00 mg per day had minimal risks.
However, every 1.0 mg per day above the safe limit of 0.68 mg was associated with a 4.24-point drop in the global cognitive score.
The Food and Drug Administration’s recommended daily value is 1.2 mg of thiamine per day for people ages four and older, and the National Institutes of Health reports that just one serving of fortified breakfast cereal contains 1.2 mg of thiamine.
The associations the researchers observed were stronger in people who were obese, had high blood pressure, or were non-smokers.
The global cognitive score ranges from zero to 27, meaning that a decrease of about four points is a decrease in cognitive function of at least 15 percent.
A separate study that looked at the health effects of another B vitamin, niacin or vitamin B3, found that it was associated with heart attacks, strokes and heart conditions.
Like thiamine, niacin is also found in breakfast cereals and “enriched” or “fortified” products.
The researchers stressed that more studies are needed on the subject, as thiamine has a number of health benefits, including strengthening the immune system, regulating diabetes, helping digestion, promoting health of the heart and increased energy.