Magnesium Status and Dementia: Is There a Link ?

Magnesium and DementiaA new study published in Neurology, shows people with either low or high blood levels of Magnesium may have a higher risk of developing dementia.

Approximately 9,500 individuals participated in this prospective study.  Participants with an average age of 65 who did not have dementia were followed for an average of 8 years.  Serum Magnesium levels were measured at the start of the study.  Results were adjusted for variables like alcohol intake, body mass index, smoking status and kidney function, which may affect dementia risks and Magnesium levels.  Participants were divided into quintiles based on their serum Magnesium levels.

During this follow up period, over 800 individuals developed dementia.  Over 650 of these individuals were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. The incidence of dementia was found to be 30% higher in both the lowest blood Magnesium groups and the highest blood Magnesium groups.  Since this was an observational study only, no causality could be determined from the study outcomes.

There was however a few limitations on the way the study was set up.  First, Magnesium levels were only taken at the onset of the study, so changes in these blood levels may have occurred during the follow up period.  Second, blood levels of Magnesium may not be a reliable measure of total body Magnesium, meaning a person can have a normal serum Magnesium level and still have a Magnesium deficiency.  These limitations confirm that further research is needed.

The National Institute of Health (NIH) lists Magnesium as being involved in over 300 enzymatic processes in the body, such as helping to maintain normal nerve and muscle functions, keeping our bones strong as well as supporting a healthier immune response.  This important mineral is also necessary for supporting healthy blood pressure and blood sugar management.  70% – 80% of the population in the United States is not achieving the recommended intakes of daily Magnesium.

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Folic Acid and Dementia: Supplementation Benefits Elderly People with Mild Cognitive Decline

Folic Acid and Cognitive ImpairmentElderly people with mild cognitive impairment saw significant improvements in both cognitive performance and reduced inflammation when supplementing with 400 mcg of Folic Acid daily for a period of 12 months.

Over 150 seniors with mild cognitive impairment were randomly assigned to two groups.  One group received daily Folic Acid supplementation (400 mcg) and the other group was a conventional-treatment group.

Significant improvements in cognitive function were seen in the group supplementing with Folic Acid.  Additionally a significant reduction in levels of inflammatory cytokines was seen.  Peripheral inflammatory cytokines appear to be biomarkers for identifying individuals who may be at a greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Researchers believe looking at the role of inflammatory markers at the onset of dementia, before full clinical dementia syndrome has developed, is essential.  Researchers concluded that folic acid has significant memory enhancing and anti-inflammatory properties.

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Vitamin C and E Supplements May Protect Against Age-Related Brain Declines

Cognitive DeclineData from a recent study shows daily supplementation with Vitamin C and Vitamin E could reduce the risk of cognitive decline.

Data from over 5,000 seniors collected over a period of time (from 1991-2002) was analyzed.  Participants were all over 65 years of age.  Seniors who were supplementing with Vitamin E and/or Vitamin C had a statistically significant 40% reduction in all cause-dementia and a 42% reduction in Alzheimer’s disease (AD).  Compared to non vitamin users, participants who were supplementing with either Vitamin C or Vitamin E separately saw a 43% and 46% reduction in the risks of developing Alzheimer’s disease.  Additionally, the risk of developing cognitive impairment not dementia (CIND), were reduced by 31% in the seniors who supplemented with Vitamin C and 32% for seniors who supplemented with Vitamin E.

As we age there is a natural decline in brain function.  Mild cognitive impairment is considered a transitional state and small changes in mental abilities and memory coexist with normal functioning.  These declines in functions may often be a warning sign of dementia.  Dementia is a term that is used to describe many different brain disorders that all share a progressive loss of brain function.  It is believed that Oxidative stress may be a contributing factor to this process.

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