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Vitamin E is believed to be a vitamin breakthrough in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease. Although the actual research we present here was done regarding the effect Vitamin E has on Stroke Victims (where a stroke has caused damage to brain cells); this stroke research crosses over and has application in Alzheimer's Disease (AD).
During a stroke, damaged brain cells release a neurotransmitter called glutamic acid. This glutamic acid causes a chain reaction that destroys more brain cells, releasing even more dangerous glutamic acid. David Schubert, Ph.D., professor of neurobiology at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in San Diego indicates that in their studies exposing brain cells to vitamin E in a laboratory seems to shield the cells from the effects of a stroke. He states that "Vitamin E actually has a protective effect on brain cells, limiting the number killed by glutamic acid."
In another study, Dr. Schubert's laboratory showed that bathing brain cells in vitamin E protects them from a toxic protein found in amyloid plaques. Just as soaking a peeled apple in lemon juice prevents oxidation from turning it brown, antioxidants such as vitamin E protect brain cells by neutralizing free radicals.Return to Main Alzheimer's Page] | [Alzheimer's Self-management Program]
Vitamin B12 is also a key link to Alzheimer's Disease. Impaired mental function, which sometimes mimics Alzheimer's Disease in elderly people, is caused by a vitamin B12 deficiency. Vitamin B12 deficiency exists in up to 42% of persons aged 65 and over. In fact, as people age, levels of vitamin B12 decrease. It is important to detect B12 deficiency early because it is easy to resolve; but if left untreated it can lead to impaired neurological and cognitive function that may not ever be reversed. [Y. Yao, G Lu-Yao, D. N. Mesches et al. "Decline of serum cobalamin levels with increasing age among geriatric outpatients." Archives of Family Medicine 1994; 3: pgs. 918-922.]
Vitamin B12 supplementation was shown to reverse impaired mental function in a study where 61% of cases with low levels of vitamin B12 had a complete recovery. It was thought that the 39% that did not respond had probably had long-term low levels of vitamin B12. [E. B. Healton et al. "Neurologic Aspects of Cobalamin Deficiency." Medicine 70 (1991): pgs. 229-245.]
This correlation is also true of people with Alzheimer's disease. If Alzheimer's Disease patients supplement with vitamin B12 there could be a complete reversal, but people who have had this disease for longer than 6 months will probably only have minimal improvement.Return to Main Alzheimer's Page] | [Alzheimer's Self-management Program]
Thiamin takes on a different role in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease. While Vitamin E helps protect the brain from various acids and plaques, thiamin concentrates on improving the memory. Thiamin has a RDA of 1.5 mg and most people fail to consume this daily allowance, especially the elderly who need it the most. Thiamin is by no means a miracle pill, but it is a step in the right direction, and in research has been shown to slow or even stop the memory decline process. The following will tell you how!
Acetylcholine is an important neurotransmitter that helps the nerve impulses that carry thoughts to leap across the gaps between brain nerve cells. This acetylcholine is made more available with thiamin supplementation.
Numerous studies have shown the positive effects of Thiamin in Alzheimer's patients. In one study, 18 Alzheimer's patients were treated for five months with megadoses of thiamin ranging from 3,000 to 8,000 mgs a day. The results were not overwhelmingly impressive, but a little improvement in an Alzheimer's patient means a lot. Most of the patients just maintained the same level of memory, but this is incredible considering the disease gets worse every six months. According to Dr. Meador, head of the Section of Behavioral Neurology at the Medical College of Georgia, "In particular, on the bedside exam you can expect a three-point drop almost every four to six months. We didn't see that in these people." [K. J. Meador, M. E. Nichols, P. Franke et al. Evidence for a central cholinergic effect of high dose Thiamin. Annals of Neurology 1993; 34: pgs. 724-726]Return to Main Alzheimer's Page] | [Alzheimer's Self-management Program]
Zinc is important for maintaining high mental capacity and a key factor in the enzymes used for DNA replication, repair, and transcription. It is believed that dementia could be the result of long-term effects of malfunctioning DNA-handling enzymes. This makes zinc deficiency a serious problem, and since zinc deficiency is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies in the elderly the problem is even more serious.
To test the benefits of zinc supplementation in Alzheimer's patients, 10 patients were given 27 mg of zinc per day. An amazing 80% showed improvement and one patient was labeled "unbelievable" by both medical staff and family.
Acetyl L-carnitine (ALC) has been shown to benefit Alzheimer's disease patients by acting similar to acetylcholine and as a powerful antioxidant within the brain cells to stabilize cell membranes and improve energy production. The results of studies using ALC are outstanding, and the studies have been well controlled and extremely thorough, which gives a high level of confidence for accross-the-board successful results using ALC.[J.W. Pettegrew et al. Clinical and neurochemical effects of acetyl-L-carnitine in Alzheimer's Disease. Neurobiological Aging 1995; 16: pgs. 1-4.]
One study with 130 patients measured fourteen different areas (assessment scales, cognitive function tests, memory tests, physician evaluations) over a 12-month period. The group taking ALC ranked better in all fourteen areas in comparison to the placebo group. [A. Spagnoli et al. "Long-term aectyl-L-carnitine Treatment in Alzheimer's Disease." Neurology, 41-1991. pgs. 1726-1732.]
In another group study, 1,500 mg of ALC daily resulted in significant improvement in mental function, particularly in memory and in constructional thinking. [C. Cipolli and G. Chiari. "Effects of L-acetylcarnitine on Mental Deterioration in the Aged: Initial Results." Clinical Ter. 132. 1990. pgs 479-510.]The only drawback to ALC supplementation is the cost. Out of all the potential nutrient options for Alzheimer's alternative nutrition therapy; ALC is the most expensive item that can be incorporated. Return to Main Alzheimer's Page] | [Alzheimer's Self-management Program]