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STUDY: Vitamin-rich foods, not supplements, appear best
JOURNAL: Journal of the American Medical Association
AUTHORS: Martha Clare Morris
ABSTRACT: In the latest work to show that vitamins may protect against dementia, new studies suggest that eating nuts, leafy green vegetables and other foods rich in antioxidants such as vitamin E may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s.
COMMENTARY: The connection, at least, is considered plausible: Antioxidant vitamins have been shown to block the effects of oxygen molecules called free radicals, which can damage cells and are thought to contribute to cancer and heart disease. And lesions typically associated with exposure to free radicals have been found in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.
One of the studies found strong effects from vitamins E and C. In the other, results from vitamin E foods were more conclusive.
There was no protective effect in participants with a gene variation called apoplipoprotein E-4, which has been linked to the development of Alzheimer’s.
Other work has hinted that high levels of the amino acid known as homocysteine may also be associated with Alzheimer’s disease, suggesting that folic acid and other B vitamins may offer some protection.
There’s no question, experts say, that folic acid and B vitamins break down homocysteine in the body, thereby reducing blood levels. But the link between homocysteine and dementia still needs to be confirmed.