Iron deposits in the brain that result from alcohol-induced vitamin B1 deficiency may be a key risk factor in cognitive decline, according to a study published in Alzheimer’s and Dementia.

In Austria, where the study was conducted, approximately 5% of the population are alcohol dependent from the age of 15 onwards. This equates to approximately 365,000 Austrians who are affected by the health consequences associated with high alcohol consumption, which includes a decline in cognitive function, according to the study. 

Investigators said that cognitive deterioration is caused by iron deposits in the brain. Various neurodegenerative diseases have already been identified to be caused by them. In these diseases, iron deposits are responsible for nerve tissue damage. The authors hypothesized that vitamin B1 supplements can help protect the brains of heavy drinkers from these deposits. 

Iron deposits have been detected in specific regions of the brain in individuals with a high level of alcohol consumption. The investigators suggested this is the case due to the fact that high alcohol consumption results in elevated iron levels in the blood and a deficiency of vitamin B1. 

Using vitamin B1 supplements to reduce iron levels is already done to treat other neurodegenerative diseases, and a clinical study is planned to determine its efficacy in patients who consume high amounts of alcohol. 

It the trial proves successful, vitamin B1 may be useful for both preventative and therapeutic approaches. It will also help investigators better understand how alcohol-related neurological damage occurs. 

Reference:
Vitamin B1 deficiency a key factor in the development of alcohol-related dementia [News Release]. Vienna, Austria. September 9, 2020. https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-09/muov-vbd090920.php. Accessed September 10, 2020.