Free Radicals and Anti-Oxidants
Free radicals are molecules produced when your body breaks down food (oxidation), or by environmental exposures like tobacco smoke and radiation. Free radicals damage cells by altering its DNA, and may play a role in heart disease, cancer and other diseases such as AD. They are also considered to promote the aging process. Free radicals are not considered bad or unhealthy unless they cause unwanted DNA changes.
Antioxidants are substances that may protect your cells against the effects of free radicals.
Antioxidant substances include
* Vitamin A
* Vitamin C
* Vitamin E
Antioxidants are found in many foods. These include fruits and vegetables, nuts, grains, and some meats, poultry and fish. Antioxidants can be specifically active against specific oxidants; thus the use of only one or two general purpose antioxidants is not recommended. The use multiple antioxidants is recommended.
The B's (The Brain Vitamins)
B vitamins are necessary for brain health
Individuals who take in higher levels of the nutrient folate through both diet and supplements may have a reduced risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, according to the Archives of Neurology (2007)
Folate deficiency is associated with a tripling in the risk of developing dementia among elderly people, suggests research published ahead of print in the Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery and Psychiatry (2008).
Best sources of folate
•leafy vegetables such as spinach, asparagus, turnip greens •legumes such as dried or fresh beans, peas and lentils •sunflower seeds •baker's yeast •liver and liver products also contain high amounts of folate •fortified grain products (pasta, cereal, bread); some breakfast cereals (ready-to-eat and others) are fortified with 25% to 100% of the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for folic acid
One recent (2010) medical study in England found that giving very high doses of B vitamins led to a seeming reversal of the cognitive impairments of AD.
Vitamin C - an antioxidant critical in cardiovascular health and AD - it is a critical component of rebuilding collagen, the protein that forms the basic building block of the body needed for connective tissues, which is vital to arterial health. Stress, a major malady of modern life, causes the release of adrenalin which depletes Vit C in our body.
- The journal “Dementia and Geriatric Cognitive Disorders” recently reported there’s an important link between heart disease and Alzheimer’s Disease. The link is atherosclerosis (hardening of arteries). Linus Pauling, two-time Nobel Prize winner, stressed for years that animals produce their own vitamin C and humans do not, and that the lack of this vitamin triggers hardening of arteries and coronary death. Dr. Pauling was a proponent of using large doses of Vitamin C for various heatlh reasons and coined the term "orthomolecular" which today is a branch of nutritional medicine.
- Dr. Sydney Bush, an English researcher, has convincing evidence that Pauling was right. Bush has shown that high doses of vitamin C, and the amino acid lysine, reverse atherosclerosis in retinal arteries. The retina is considered part of the brain.
- Peter Zandi et. al. of the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore focused a study on vitamin use. The team found that people taking vitamins E and C in combination had a reduced chance of being in the group diagnosed with Alzheimer's. The researchers examined the recruits again three or four years later. When the team went back and did a statistical analysis, it found that vitamins C and E again seemed to offer protection against Alzheimer's. "Vitamins C and E might slow down the underlying pathogenesis of this disease," Zandi says... Archives of Neurology (2004).
- Most researchers report the most effective doses were in pill form of 500 to 1,500 milligrams/day, but higher doses have also been recommended
Vitamin E - is a powerful, fat soluble antioxidant that protects cell membranes from damage by free radicals. Research has found that high levels of
several components of vitamin E help prevent cognitive deterioration in people 80 years of age and older.
- Researchers reported the most effective doses were vitamin E in liquid capsules of 400 to 1,000 International Units. For safety and effectiveness both the d-alpha and gamma tocopherols must be used together.
Vitamin E should be taken under a doctor's supervision as higher doses (greater than 400 IU) can effect other medications including blood clotting.
When used together in sufficient amounts
Vitamins C and E reduce the chances of developing AD by 70%
N.B. In Oct 2011 the FDA released results of a poorly designed study that concluded that Vit E (400 IU's/day or higher while using only the synthetic alpha tocopherol form of Vit E) could increase the chance of prostate cancer. The Life Extension Institute predicted this would happen in back in 1997.
In 2000 Johns Hopkins School of Public Health released the results of a huge study (10,456 men). The findings showed that men with the highest gamma tocopherol blood levels had a fivefold reduction in prostate cancer risk. This same study showed that selenium and alpha tocopherol also reduced prostate cancer risk but only when gamma tocopherol levels were high
Vitamin D - is for bone and cardiovascular health and AD
Vitamin D deficiency is very common in older men and women. An estimated 80 percent of people over the age of 65 have inadequate levels of vitamin D in their blood; for as many as 45 percent, the deficiency is characterized as severe.
- In July 2010 of the Archives of Internal Medicine reported a study of 858 adults (65+) who were surveyed for seven years. The results indicated that participants with low vitamin D levels in the blood, when compared with volunteers with normal levels, experienced significant declines in their intellectual function. Indeed, those with decreased Vitamin D levels were as much as 60 percent more likely to exhibit progressive cognitive decline or dementia over the relatively brief duration of this study. Moreover, abnormalities of the brain, as detected by MRI scans, were also more commonly observed in patients who were deficient in vitamin D.
- Recommended dose is up to 5,000 -10,000 IU/day.
Vitamin D supplements should be taken as Vitamin D3.
Vitamin K - although usually associated with maintaining normal blood coagulation, it has been recently found that in combination with Vitamin D3 it helps to protect against arterial calcification, one of the steps involved in atherosclerosis, and consequently AD. Scientists have recently uncovered a deficiency of vitamin K as being a factor that enables calcium to infiltrate the inner lining of arteries to cause arterial calcification. Vit D and K operate synergistically to optimize bone mineralization and prevent calcium deposits in vascular tissue.
Vitamin K should be also be combined with calcium intake for optimal osteoporosis managment.
Recent evidence suggests that there are deficient levels in older adults. More importantly, evidence also suggests that levels necessary to prevent arterial calcification are higher than that needed for healthy clot formation.
Vit K is not a single nutrient and is found in small amounts in various foods including green leafy vegetables, meat, and dairy products. Gut flora ((beneficial intestinal bacteria) produces 75% the body absorbs each day. The other 25% is from diet. It is not stored in the body so it has to be replenished daily.
- Vitamin K1 and D3 protect post-menopausal women from bone loss.
- Vitamin K2 has more effects on arterial calcification. Recommended dosage of K2 is 45mg/day
Vitamins D3 and Ks used together
offer protection against arterial calcium plaque formation
which decreases the chances of developing AD
In today's world of "enriched" foods, it may come as a surprise to know that pretty much everyone needs basic multivitamin and mineral supplementation.
Ninety-two percent of Americans are deficient in one or more vitamins. This is largely due to the nutrient stripping effects of soil depletion, transporting food over great distances, food storage times, pesticides, colorings, flavorings, preservatives, fertilizers, chemical and metal toxins. Add in hormones and/or antibiotics used in producing food, genetic food modifications, toxic air and waters, poor animal husbandry, unsanitary farms and breeders and it's a nutritional nightmare. Then factor in stress, lack of enough sleep and other situations In short, living in and coping with modern society has left us nutritionally deprived and filled with toxins.
There are around 80,000 toxic industrial chemicals found in our environment today. Heavy metals, especially mercury, are particularly toxic and widespread in our environment, especially in coal burning areas. Even many skin care products contain toxic chemicals that can get into the body.
The Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) tested 9000 people 9 years ago and found that every person had pesticides or their by-products in their body, with the average person containing 13-18 different pesticides.
Further consider that the CDC also reported that prescription drug overdoses and brain damage linked to long-term drug abuse killed an estimated 37,485 people in 2009, the latest year for which preliminary data are available, surpassing the toll of traffic accidents by 1,201, and that this number is likely to rise in future years. This, is in an era now, where the FDA/pharmaceutical complex in a thinly disguised turf battle, is attempting to label vitamins and supplements as dangerous to your health and limit (prohibit?) their use! It would indeed be very challenging to find very many cases of death from vitamin overdosage. It is no wonder public disillusionment with government and their agencies is at an all time high.
One might wonder how much vitamins/minerals does one need? Not surprisingly, the answer to this simple question is not simple and open to discussion. Current USDA guidelines (DRIs) are based on the minimal amount needed to prevent a "deficiency disease" (disease caused by a lack of vitamins or minerals). Now there is evidence that "just enough" (as often recommended by the USDA etc.) of a nutrient does not give you enough to achieve optimal health, and in fact, "just enough" can lead to "long-latency" deficiency diseases (ones that take a long time to develop) such as AD, other brain disorders, cancer, heart disease etc.
It is also known that vitamins and minerals have many, sometimes hundreds, of functions in helping us maintain our health. Some researchers believe that the DRIs are not even close to what our bodies need. This will become a major nutritional issue in the coming years as optimal levels are further researched and discovered.
Aging and illnesses are not natural processes. Besides genetic DNA influences, there is widespread agreement that free radicals and inflammation play significant roles in both processes. Controlling exposure to environmental causes and taking sufficient amounts of nutrients are essential elements of creating optimal health.
It is important to note that AD and atherosclerosis have now been linked to each
other, and that having adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals are critical in preventing the onset or slowing down the progress of both.