Supplement Formula Shown to Improve Early Alzheimer’s Disease
Source: American Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease (2009)
Lifestyle Medicine Update (May 17, 2023)
A one-year study published in the American Journal of Alzheimer’s disease showed that providing a specific natural supplement to early-stage Alzheimer’s patients improved many aspects of their cognition and performance. The patients taking the natural supplement showed improvement in Dementia Rating Scale, Clock-drawing Tests and their care givers reported improvement in neuropsychiatric parameters (NPI – Neuropsychiatric Inventory) and maintenance of performance in the Activities of Daily Living (ADL). For patients who remained on the supplement for an additional four months (16 months in total) sustained improvement was documented by their caregivers. The natural supplement contained the B-vitamins Folic Acid and Vitamin B6, along with vitamin E, SAMe, N-acetylcysteine and Acetyl-L-Carnitine. Although this was a small open-trial study the outcomes were very significant and the rationale to use this supplement formulation is explained quite eloquently by the researchers.
As they indicated, we know that folic acid, SAMe, and vitamin B6 are required by the brain to make key neurotransmitters required for healthy brain function and to keep homocysteine levels down. High homocysteine is an established risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease, as it damages brain cells and brain blood vessels. Vitamin E is an important brain antioxidant and previous studies have shown that Vitamin E supplementation can slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease in the early stages.Other studies show that Alzheimer’s patients often inherit a defect in the ability to make sufficient glutathione, which is the brain’s most important antioxidant, protecting brain cells from free radicals that lead to brain cell death. Supplementing with N-acetylcysteine (NAC) is known to raise brain levels of glutathione. Other studies have shown that Acetyl-L-Carnitine helps preserve energy production in brain cells (by protecting the mitochondria – the cell’s energy factories) and it further helps to support glutathione synthesis and synthesis of the memory chemical acetylcholine.
The researchers argue that decreasing free radical damage to brain cells and damage from homocysteine should be critical strategies used in the management of Alzheimer’s disease. But these strategies are not considered in the usual conventional medical management. They also argue that only supplements of this nature can preserve energy function (mitochondrial effects) in brain cells and support synthesis of important neurotransmitters, including the memory chemical acetylcholine, as well as glutathione synthesis. Only targeted supplements can address these important aspects of the disease. To date the use or Alzheimer’s drugs alone has not significantly altered the progression of Alzheimer’s disease and thus, the addition of natural supplements that can counter key aspects of the disease not addressed by drug therapy, should be considered in the treatment plan for patients with mild cognitive impairment and early-stage Alzheimer’s patients to help stabilize and/or slow disease progression.
In addition to these nutrients, I believe that everyone over the age of 50 should also take a supplement that includes:
• Huperzine A
• Bacopa monneiri,
which I have seen reverse a number of cases of mild cognitive impairment. More importantly, evidence suggests that these nutrients may help prevent age-related memory loss.
I have included the reference for this study in the text below.
Chan A et al. Efficacy of a vitamin/nutraceutical formulation for early-stage Alzheimer’s disease: A 1-year, open-label pilot study with a 16-month caregiver extension. Am J Alzheimer’s Disease. 2009; 23(6): 571-585.
Eat Smart, Live Well, Look Great,
Dr. James Meschino
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. James Meschino, DC, MS, ROHP, is an educator, author, and researcher having lectured to thousands of healthcare professionals across North America. He holds a Master’s Degree in Science with specialties in human nutrition and biology and is recognized as an expert in the field of nutrition, anti-aging, fitness, and wellness as well as the author of numerous books.