Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders (ADRD) are a group of conditions that cause mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or dementia. These conditions affect one’s ability to function socially, personally, and professionally. It’s important to recognize that Alzheimer’s disease begins long before symptoms start, as is the case with many other conditions. There is evidence that simple prevention strategies can reduce the risk of ADRD by as much as 50%.
According to a review published last month in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, researchers investigated the role of nutrition as a potential strategy in Alzheimer’s disease.
According to this review, patients with Alzheimer’s disease had significantly lower plasma levels of folate and vitamins B12, C and E. This is not surprising, as antioxidants have been found to be depleted in the brain of those with neurodegenerative disorders. Providing antioxidant support is essential for mitigating some of the damage seen in neurodegenerative disorders. In addition, the body’s cells are more susceptible to damage and death in older adults. Folate and B12 are significant as they play a large role in the metabolism of homocysteine and elevated levels are a risk factor for cognitive decline.
In addition, low levels of vitamin A are a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease. Numerous genes involved in Alzheimer’s are maintained in the immune system by this vitamin.
Curcumin also plays an important role. There are only a few natural products that have demonstrated the wide range of protective properties as curcumin. There have been connections with vitamin D deficiency and Alzheimer’s as it correlates with almost all conditions, however, curcumin and vitamin D work together to enhance the brain’s immune system to protect against amyloid-induced toxicity.
Other brain supportive nutrients to consider include GPC, CDP-choline (citicoline), ginkgo biloba, and phosphatidylserine. GPC and CDP-choline are water soluble forms of choline that can cross the blood brain barrier and support brain health. These help make more acetylcholine, neurotransmitters, and phosphatidylcholine in the cell membranes.
Daily intake of fish oil has been found to lower the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease. One study found that daily dietary supplementation with 900 mg DHA resulted in a 7 year age improvement in cognition over 24 weeks in elderly patients with cognitive decline.
From a dietary perspective, a Mediterranean diet has been associated with lower incidences of stroke, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, all of which are risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease. A Mediterranean diet is rich in healthy fats and antioxidants; however, patients in chronic disease states often need therapeutic doses to address oxidative stress and deficiencies.
By Michael Jurgelewicz, DC, DACBN, DCBCN, CNS