To Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease, Get More Exercise Instead of Buying Supplements

Lots of Americans take vitamin supplements like Vitamins E and C in the belief that the antioxidants in them are doing them some good. In particular, many people feel dietary supplements help to prevent Alzheimer’s disease in old age. However, a new study published in ‘Archives of Neurology’ debunks this belief. The results show that supplements have no effect on the cerebro-spinal fluid (CSF) bio-markers that are linked to Alzheimer’s disease.

Beta-Amyloid Protein

Large amounts of beta-amyloid proteins are the key indicator of Alzheimer’s disease. They form a kind of crust on cells and between cells in the brain, severely restricting blood flow and brain activity. Particular proteins in the spinal fluid are correlated closely to the presence of Alzheimer proteins and are good indicators of the presence of the disease. The new study out of the Department of Neuroscience at the University of California in San Diego analyzed the effects of combined doses of vitamin E and C and alpha-lipoic acid on those levels of proteins in the spinal fluid

Free Radicals

It is a natural part of our bodies aging process that we manufacture ‘free radicals, molecules that react like ‘rust’, or oxidation on proteins, cells and genes. This ‘rusting’ is linked to diseases such as Alzheimer’s and cancer. All Alzheimer sufferers have large areas of rust damage in the brain. Antioxidants are the body’s protection against free radicals.

Our family medical history, in other words, the gene pool from our parents and ancestors, our environment, in particular, our socioeconomic status as it affects diet, and our lifestyle choices, smoking, in particular, also influence our aging processes. Given this, it is not surprising that vitamin supplements with anti oxidants are popular preventive treatments for health-conscious people. However, these randomized trials of supplemented diets have shown spurious results.

The Alzheimer’s Disease Cooperative Study provided 78 patients for the San Diego research into CSF bio markers, oxidative stress and cognitive function. The subjects were allocated to 1 of three groups at random. Group A took doses of vitamin A, E and alpha lipoic acid; group B took doses of the antioxidant coenzyme Q and group C took a placebo. The analysis of CSF biomarkers for amyloid proteins showed no differences.

Group A Subjects

Group A subjects did show a marked decline in one biomarker, but they also showed a worrying loss of cognitive function as measured by the Mini Mental State Examination. This side effect and the unproven benefits to Alzheimer’s disease patients simply shows the need for more and longer-term trials involving the antioxidant and vitamin combined doses. Not a breakthrough then, nor even a conclusive result. Except to say there is some merit in saving the money spent on dietary supplements and investing in a good pair of sports shoes, so people can get more exercise.

Group B Subjects

Group B subjects could also have the same advice, since the antioxidant coenzyme Q, at least in the doses used in this research, seemed to have no impact on the CSF bio-markers.

Claire Al-Aufi

Claire Al-Aufi is a contributing author for Hive Health Media who provides updates on health and fitness news.

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