Alzheimer’s disease tops the charts for the most prevalent, severe, and disabling cause of dementia throughout the world. Treatment has been the prime focus, rather than prevention, for this crippling disease. No treatment has altered the onset or has had a marked effect on progression of Alzheimer’s, but as with all medications, they do come with side effects. Researchers at DSM Nutrition Products in Basel, Switzerland propose a different approach that focuses on maintaining healthy neurons in the brain, rather than attempting to stop or alter the progression once those brain cells are diseased. “One factor…important for neuronal health and function is the optimal supply of nutrients necessary for maintaining normal functioning of the brain,” state the researchers. Studies show that the omega-3 fat, DHA, and some nutrients, such as the B vitamins and vitamins E, C, and D, help protect neurons from aging. A few phytonutrients, such as lutein and zeaxanthin, also are currently showing promise in protecting brain cells from damage. The researchers argue that, “These nutrients are inexpensive, have virtually no side effects when used at recommended doses, are essential for life, have established modes of action, and are broadly accepted by the general public.”
Seniors aged 80-years-old and older whose memories are as sharp as those people many decades younger are called “superagers.” Their brains have thicker regions of the cortex, far fewer tangles indicating Alzheimer’s disease, and a large supply of neurons linked to higher social intelligence, state researchers at Northwestern’s Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease Center in Chicago.
Mohajeri M, Troesch B, Weber P: Inadequate supply of vitamins and DHA in elderly: Implications for brain aging and Alzheimer-type dementia. Nutrition 2015;31:261-275.
Gefen T, Peterson M, Papastefan S, et al: Morphometric and histologic substrates of cingulate integrity in elders with exceptional memory capacity. Journal of Neuroscience 2015;35:1781-1791.