According to a new study large daily doses of B vitamins could halve the rate of brain shrinkage in elderly people with warning signs of Alzheimer’s, potentially delaying the onset of the disease.

Brain shrinkage, a natural part of ageing, happens faster in people with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), a precursor to Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

The team of British-led scientists behind the study believe the vitamin treatment could delay or even prevent development of the disease but stressed more research was needed to test this theory.

In the research, published in the online journal Public Library of Science ONE, brain atrophy was studied in 168 volunteers over the age of 70 diagnosed with MCI.

“It is our hope that this simple and safe treatment will delay the development of Alzheimer’s disease in many people who suffer from mild memory problems.”