"B" is for the billions of dollars being spent to develop dangerous and ineffective dementia drugs... but B has another, better meaning in the fight against Alzheimer's.

It's the ordinary B vitamins--particularly B12, the wonder nutrient that can help save both hearts and minds.

Researchers from Sweden's Karolinska Institute tracked 271 Finns between the ages of 65 and 79 for seven years. None of the patients had dementia at the start of the study.

Ultimately, however, 17 of them were diagnosed with the condition--and the researchers say B12 levels appeared to make a big difference in determining who was spared and who was impaired.

In fact, those with the highest levels of the critical nutrient had the lowest risk of an Alzheimer's diagnosis--with each unit increase of B12 markers in the blood leading to a 2 percent decrease Alzheimer's risk.

The study also confirms the link between inflammation and Alzheimer's: Researchers say each unit increase in the inflammation marker homocysteine boosted the disease risk by 16 percent, according to the study published in Neurology.

High levels of homocysteine have also been linked to heart problems. And since B vitamins are known to send that inflammation packing, call it one more reason to put a B-rich steak on the grill tonight.

Of course, this new study was a pretty small one--and, let's face it, no one should ever make a major health decision based on a handful of people in Finland.

But when it comes to this key nutrient, you don't have to--because this isn't the first study to find a link between B vitamins and dementia risk... and I'd bet big money that it won't be the last.

Heck, if I was a drug company, I'd even bet a billion dollars on it.

As I told you a few weeks ago, one recent study found that a blend of B6, B12 and folic acid dramatically reduced the brain shrinkage associated with dementia.

The blend used in that study may soon be sold as "drug," which may be the only way the mainstream will accept B supplements for dementia prevention--because they're certainly not willing to endorse the idea now.

"It might be tempting at this stage to stock up the cupboard with B vitamin in the light of recent findings--it remains too early to do that at this stage," Rebecca Wood, the chief executive of the Alzheimer's Research Trust, told the BBC.

But since B vitamins play a key role in mood, memory and cardiovascular health, there's simply no reason not to make sure you're getting what you need.

And chances are, you might not have enough.

Your doctor can measure your B levels and help determine how much you need to stay healthy and lower your own disease risk.

The best natural sources are fresh meats, fish and eggs--and if you're not eating enough of those, look for a quality a supplement.

It doesn't have to be sold as a "drug" to work.