Get Enough…For Your Brain’s Sake…

Dear Reader,

You probably think of Alzheimer’s “old-age” dementia as totally unpredictable and incurable surprises that can strike anyone as they get older—including you. Most doctors would probably agree… But I don’t.

Evidence keeps mounting that these conditions are almost entirely preventable.

For instance, I just read a study out of South Korea that found a direct link between the B vitamin, folate deficiency, Alzheimer’s, and age-related dementia. You’ve probably heard vitamin B9 by its other name, “folic acid,” a different form of B9. It’s abundant in leafy greens like kale, spinach, turnip greens, lettuce, beans, peas, and certain fruits.

The researchers took 518 people over 65 and monitored them for about two-and-a-half years. Over that time, 45 of them developed dementia, and out of the 45, 34 had Alzheimer’s. The one thing everyone in this group had in common was what the researchers called an “exaggerated” decline in B9 levels compared to the rest of the people in the study.

Meanwhile, those in the study with low levels of B9 had three times the risk of developing Alzheimer’s or dementia. This was true even after other factors were taken into account—including age, physical disabilities, alcohol consumption, and weight gain.

So this study would suggest that you can reduce your chance of Alzheimer’s or dementia just by keeping your levels of B9 high.

This is just the latest in a string of recent studies showing a definitive link between nutritional status and risk for Alzheimer’s and dementia.

A landmark study presented at the 2005 International Conference on Alzheimer’s disease looked at diet and antioxidant intake over a lifetime—especially the vitamin B complex, along with vitamins C, E, and fish oil. The risk of Alzheimer’s disease among those who got enough of these antioxidants was one third of those who did not.

And a British study published that same year found a strong link between obesity, Alzheimer’s, and dementia. Researchers tracked markers of health among more than 10,000 voluntary participants going all the way back to 1964. They concluded that people who are overweight are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease as folks who stay fit.

So my advice boils down to the simple strategy of doing what you can to lower your risk:

Here are the nutritional “must-haves” in the fight against Alzheimer’s and dementia, all of which you can find in most health food stores (these are DSRDA’s—Dr. Sears’s recommended daily amounts):

  • CoQ10 – 200 mg
  • Vitamin B12 – 400 mcg
  • Vitamin B6 – 75 mg
  • Vitamin C – at least 500 mg minimum, much more is safe (I take 2000 mg per day)
  • Vitamin E – 400 IU
  • Folic Acid (B9) – 800 mcg

To Your Good Health,

Al Sears, MD