Dementia:Supplements can help

* Antioxidant supplements counteract toxic build-up and keep blood vessels flexible (see main text). There is evidence that people who take vitamins C or E have a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease compared with those who do not (Alzheimer Dis Assoc Disord, 1998; 12: 121-6). In particular, large amounts of supplemental vitamin E (2000 IU daily) may slow disease progression and improve day-to-day functioning in individuals with moderate Alzheimer’s (N Engl J Med, 1997; 336: 1216-22).

* Vitamin B1 (thiamine) is necessary for optimal neurological transmission in those parts of the brain affected by Alzheimer’s. In people who suffer from this disease, the activity of vitamin B1-dependent enzymes in the brain has been found to be impaired (Arch Neurol, 1988; 45: 836-40). Small, but significant, improvements in mental function have been noted in Alzheimer’s sufferers who took 3 g of vitamin B1 daily compared with those who took a placebo (J Geriatr Psychiatry Neurol, 1993; 6: 222-9; Arch Neurol, 1988; 45: 833-5).

* Phosphatidylserine (PS) is a relative of lecithin that can enhance neurological function. Although not a cure, 300-400 mg daily has been shown to improve mental function, including being able to remember names and finding frequently misplaced objects, in patients with Alzheimer’s (Psychopharmacol Bull, 1992; 28: 61-6; Dementia, 1994; 5: 88-98; Am J Health Syst Pharm, 1999; 56: 2036-44). There is also evidence, however, that only the most seriously impaired individuals will benefit from this supplement (Psychopharmacol Bull, 1988; 24: 130-4).

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