Believe it or not, there are nutritional ways to prevent dementia and Alzheimer’s. I ran into a recent study regarding three nutrients postulated to prevent cognitive decline. Originally, I was searching for studies on Omega 3 fatty acids and found this fascinating study on NCBI, National Center for Biotechnology Information, the US repository for research studies from around the world. I get most of my data from there. That way we know it’s legitimate information. How to prevent dementia and Alzheimer’s is deeply affected by diet and nutrition.
Yes, there are additional things you need to do for preventing dementia and Alzheimer’s (sleep, exercise, being mindful, choline and other supplements), but without these three nutrients, the additional factors won’t help as much. They are the pillar of the strategy.
Anyway, three nutrients were studied in a large group of older adults at risk for dementia. The study was conducted with people living in assisted living communities, all over age 70, and all had at least one risk factor for cognitive decline. The study was based in France and Monaco. The criteria for participants were they had complained to their doctor of memory issues, had a limitation in one aspect of daily living, or slow gait speed, i.e. it takes more than 5 seconds to walk 4 meters.
This seems a pretty good group to test potential help for cognitive decline. 712 people participated. The nutrients tested were Omega 3 fatty acids (and EPA), Vitamin D, and Vitamin B complex for reducing homocysteine. We’ll talk about homocysteine in a minute. The scientists only included people who were not previously using Omega 3’s as a supplement. So let’s see what they found…
The Basics of the Study
The researchers divided the participants into four groups. Part of the treatment included education on cognitive training, nutritional counseling, and physical activity. Multiple classes took place regarding these subjects. One group participated in the classes and were given a placebo. Another group participated in the classes and used supplements. The third group didn’t have the training but were given supplements. And the fourth group had no training and were given placebos (so no intervention at all).
The researchers followed these groups for more than three years. Those given training continued with followup classes during the study. In addition, neuropsychological assessments were conducted with the participants.
They chose Omega 3s, Vitamin D, and measuring homocysteine (reduced by B Vitamins) because they have known actions in regard to brain health.
What Is Homocysteine?
Homocysteine is a naturally occurring amino acid found in blood plasma. High levels of homocysteine in the blood are believed to increase the chance of heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, and osteoporosis.
The definition goes on to describe homocysteine as a sulfur-containing amino acid which is broken down byand Vitamins B6 and B12. It is thought that homocysteine irritates the lining of blood vessels causing them to become scarred, hardened and narrowed. This makes it harder for the heart to do its job and can cause heart disease. High levels can also cause blood clots. With narrowed arteries and potential blood clots, it’s easy to see how this could affect brain function.
Certain drugs increase levels of homocysteine like cholesterol-lowering drugs, metformin for diabetes, nitrous oxide (laughing gas), levadopa, methotraxate, and androgen treatment. Doctors don’t normally test for high homocysteine unless they are suspecting heart disease.
B Complex is a must supplement, keeping homocysteine in control for the prevention of cognitive decline but also for heart health.
Back to the Study
Why Omega 3s and Vitamin D?
Where We Are Now
Bowman, G. L., Dodge, H. H., Guyonnet, S., Zhou, N., Donohue, J., Bichsel, A., … MAPT/DSA Study Group (2019). A blood-based nutritional risk index explains cognitive enhancement and decline in the multidomain Alzheimer prevention trial. Alzheimer’s & dementia (New York, N. Y.), 5, 953–963. doi:10.1016/j.trci.2019.11.004
“homocysteine.” The American Heritage® Medical Dictionary. 2007. Houghton Mifflin Company 12 Jan. 2020 https://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/homocysteine