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Study: Vitamin B12 may help ward off Alzheimer’s

Rating

4 Star

Study: Vitamin B12 may help ward off Alzheimer’s

Our Review Summary

The story included a number of independent sources to add various perspectives and reactions to the research. While it met many of our criteria, there was still room for improvement.  For example, the story should have presented the results data in absolute terms. While unrelated to our criteria, it seems important to note that there are distracting links to other features from Health.com throughout the text of the story, some of which contain information contradicting this report. Some of this should be resolved in the relationship between Health.com and CNN.com.

 

Why This Matters

This story is important because of the large burden of Alzheimer’s disease and because we do not have effective ways to prevent it currently.

Criteria

Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory
While the story primarily discusses foods as a source of vitamin B12, people will likely consider supplements as an alternative and, therefore, a discussion of their costs is warranted.     

Does the story adequately quantify the benefits of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Not Satisfactory
According to the story, each unit increase of B12 in the blood results in a 2% reduction in the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. It’s not clear from the story what a “unit increase” actually means or how that translates to the amount of B12 a person would need to consume to obtain a benefit.  It would be helpful if these results were presented in absolute terms.  See our primer on this topic.

Does the story adequately explain/quantify the harms of the intervention?

Not Applicable
Vitamin B12 has not been associated with potential harms.

Does the story seem to grasp the quality of the evidence?

Satisfactory
This story does a nice job of presenting the study methods and pointing out potential limitations, such as the small number of participants and the fact that the results may not apply to those outside of Finland. It would have been helpful to note, however, that the researchers accounted for confounders such as age, sex, body mass index, and smoking status.  

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Not Applicable
Not applicable because the story really doesn’t discuss the prevalence or seriousness of Alzheimer’s disease.

Does the story use independent sources and identify conflicts of interest?

Satisfactory
A particular strength of this story is the inclusion of quotes from multiple independent experts.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Satisfactory
This story points out that there are no specific foods or supplements that have been shown to prevent Alzheimer’s disease, including vitamin B12. This provides valuable context for readers.

Does the story establish the availability of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Satisfactory
The story at least briefly discusses the vitamin’s availability in supplements and in food sources.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Not Satisfactory
The idea that vitamin B12 may be linked to Alzheimer’s disease is not novel; however, the story could have been clearer on this point. 

Does the story appear to rely solely or largely on a news release?

Satisfactory
This piece does not rely on a press release.

Total Score: 5 of 8 Satisfactory

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