Can vitamins stop Alzheimer's?
In clinical trial, a nutrient mixture has been shown to help overcome loss of connections between brain cells.
A clinical trial of an Alzheimer’s disease treatment developed at Massachusetts Institute of Technology has found that the nutrient cocktail, which is designed to promote new connections between brain cells, can improve memory in patients with early Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s patients gradually lose those connections, known as synapses, leading to memory loss and other cognitive impairments. The supplement mixture stimulates growth of new synapses, says Richard Wurtman, the Cecil H. Green Distinguished Professor Emeritus at MIT, who invented the nutrient mixture.
Wurtman came up with a mixture of three naturally occurring dietary compounds: choline, uridine and the omega-3 fatty acid DHA. Choline can be found in meats, nuts and eggs, and omega-3 fatty acids are found in a variety of sources, including fish, eggs, flaxseed and meat from grass-fed animals. Uridine is produced by the liver and kidney, and is present in some foods as a component of RNA. These nutrients are precursors to the lipid molecules that make up brain-cell membranes, which form synapses. To be effective, all three must be administered together.
Results of the clinical trial, conducted in Europe, appear in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. The new findings are encouraging because very few clinical trials have produced consistent improvement in Alzheimer’s patients, says Jeffrey Cummings, director of the Cleveland Clinic’s Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health. “Memory loss is the central characteristic of Alzheimer’s, so something that improves memory would be of great interest,” says Cummings.
The new study followed 259 patients for six months. Patients, whether taking the nutrient cocktail or a placebo, improved their verbal-memory performance for the first three months, but the placebo patients deteriorated during the following three months, while the nutrient cocktail patients continued to improve.
This Nature & Health natural health news item was sourced from materials provided by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.