Vitamin C and beta-carotene may protect brain health

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Vitamin C and beta-carotene may protect brain health

A German study has found patients with mild dementia have significantly lower levels of antioxidants vitamin C and beta-carotene in their bloodstream.

The findings of the University of Ulm research, led by professors Gabriele Nagel and Christine von Arnim, show it may be possible to influence the onset of Alzheimer's disease (AD) through a person's diet or dietary antioxidants.

Fruits with high Vitamin C levels include acerola cherries, guavas, litchis, blackcurrants, peaches and kiwifruit, while unsweetened citrus and apple juices also contain high traces of the antioxidant.

Beta-carotene is a red-orange pigment found in many horticultural crops, such as peppers, lettuce, kale, carrots, spinach, turnips and pumpkins.

The study measured the levels of several antioxidants in the bloodstream of 74 AD-patients and 158 healthy control subjects, with the results published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.

"In order to possibly influence the onset and development of Alzheimer's disease, we need to be aware of potential risk factors," Nagel said.

Participants in the study were aged between 65-90 years of age, recruited from the cross-sectional study IMCA ActiFE (Activity and Function in the Elderly in Ulm).

While blood testing showed encouraging results for vitamin C and beta-carotene, there was no significant difference in the levels of vitamin E, lycopene and coenzyme Q10.

Potential confounding factors such as education, civil status, BMI, consumption of alcohol and tobacco were included in the statistical analysis.

However, the researchers emphasized other factors such as storage and preparation of food as well as life stressors, may have influenced the findings which means more surveys are needed.

"Longitudinal studies with more participants are necessary to confirm the result that vitamin C and beta-carotene might prevent the onset and development of Alzheimer's disease," Nagel said.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Marcelo P. B. Silva

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