"The groundbreaking two-year study discovered a combination of B vitamins and omega-3 found in oily fish prevented brain shrinkage, a hallmark of the devastating condition that develops in 550 people a day in the UK.
The research has excited health experts worldwide and could lead to new public health advice on the treatment of early stage dementia using nutritional supplements.
Researchers analysed people over 70 who had memory problems. They found brain atrophy was slowed by 70 per cent in patients who had high levels of these nutrients.
Oxford professor David Smith, who lead the study, said: “This is a very exciting and important result. It is the first treatment to show Alzheimer’s related brain shrinkage can be prevented. It means that something so simple as keeping your omega-3 levels high and supplementing B vitamins if you are at risk could dramatically reduce a person’s risk.”
Prof Smith will meet government officials this month to discuss changing NHS practice so people with early memory loss are offered supplements. The specific B vitamins were B6, B12 and folic acid. “When people come to a memory clinic there’s nothing now that can help those showing signs of memory loss. Supplementation should be adopted across the NHS.”