Vegans and vegetarians are the most likely to be deficient because the best sources of the vitamin are meat, particularly liver, milk and fish. Vitamin B12 deficiency can also cause anaemia and inflammation of the nervous system. Yeast extracts are one of the few vegetarian foods which provide good levels of the vitamin.
The link was discovered by Oxford University scientists who used memory tests, physical checks and brain scans to examine 107 people between the ages of 61 and 87.
When the volunteers were retested five years later the medics found those with the lowest levels of vitamin B12 were also the most likely to have brain shrinkage. It confirms earlier research showing a link between brain atrophy and low levels of B12.
Brain scans of more than 1,800 people found that people who downed 14 drinks or more a week had 1.6% more brain shrinkage than teetotallers. Women in their seventies were the most at risk.
Beer does less damage than wine according to a study in Alcohol and Alcoholism.
Researchers found that the hippocampus-the part of the brain that stores memories – was 10% smaller in beer drinkers than those who stuck to wine.
And being overweight or obese is linked to brain loss, Swedish researchers discovered. Scans of around 300 women found that those with brain shrink had an average body mass index of 27 And for every one point increase in their BMI the loss rose by 13 to 16%.
But experts advised against this, in line with official guidance.
The concern is the relative ease with which children could receive an overdose.
Fever is very common in young children, affecting seven in every 10 preschool children each year. “Parents wanting to use medicines to treat young, unwell children with fever should be advised to use ibuprofen first”..Says Lead researcher, Dr Alastair Hay
It can be miserable for the child and cause anxiety for parents. Most fevers will settle by themselves but a few are caused by serious infections such as pneumonia.
But they say that, due to the lack of evidence, the two drugs should not be given together or alternated.
The researchers from the University of Bristol and the University of the West of England, recruited children who had a temperature between 37.8 and 41 degrees centigrade, due to an illness that could be managed at home.
Children were randomised to receive either paracetamol plus ibuprofen, just paracetamol, or just ibuprofen.
The medicines were given over a 48-hour period, with the group of children on both paracetamol and ibuprofen receiving them as separate doses.
This group received one dose of paracetamol every four to six hours (maximum of four doses in 24 hours) and then one dose of ibuprofen every six to eight hours (maximum of three doses in 24 hours).
The children’s condition was followed up at 24 hours, 48 hours and at day five.
The researchers found that in the first four hours children given both medicines spent 55 minutes less time with fever compared to those given paracetamol alone.
But giving two medicines was not markedly better than just giving ibuprofen.
However, over a 24 hour period, children given both medicines experienced 4.4 hours less time with fever than those given just paracetamol, and 2.5 hours less time with fever than those just given ibuprofen.
Childhood fever :-
*A normal temperature is between 36-36.8C (96.8-98.24F)
*In children, any temperature of 38C (100.4F) or above is considered high and is called a fever
*To find out if your child has a fever, place a thermometer under your child’s armpit or use a special ear thermometer
Dr Alastair Hay, consultant senior lecturer in primary health care at the University of Bristol, who led the study, said: “Doctors, nurses, pharmacists and parents wanting to use medicines to treat young, unwell children with fever should be advised to use ibuprofen first.
“If more sustained symptom control over a 24-hour period is wanted, giving both medicines alternately is better than giving one on its own.
“However, parents should keep a careful record of when doses are given to avoid accidentally giving too much.”
He said he thought it would be appropriate for NICE to review its guidance in light of the new study, saying the current guidance was too cautious.
In an accompanying editorial in the BMJ, Dr Anthony Harnden from the University of Oxford, warned of the relative ease with which children could receive an overdose.
He said that a “more complicated alternating regimen of paracetamol and ibuprofen may be less safe than using either drug alone”.
A spokeswoman for NICE said the 2007 guidance recommended that more research should be conducted on the effectiveness and safety of alternating doses of paracetamol and ibuprofen in reducing fever in children who remain febrile after the first fever-reducing medicine.
She said: “Any newly published research will need to be thoroughly assessed by independent experts as part of the process of updating clinical guidelines.
“This is essential to ensure that any new evidence is of the highest standards before any potential updates can be made to existing guidance.”
“We believe parents should keep it simple. We do not see at this moment any need to change the advice.
“However, this paper does demonstrate that using ibuprofen initially is more effective at reducing temperature and may demonstrate that using both ibuprofen and paracetamol together could have a positive effect.”
“We believe parents should keep it simple. We do not see at this moment any need to change the advice ” … Says Professor Steve Fields, chairman of the Royal College of General Practitioners