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To “B” or not to “B”- What you Should Know About Vitamin B and the Alzheimer’s Diet

Posted by on Friday, May 24th, 2013

A study published on May 20, 2013 in the top-tier journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that vitamins B6 and B12 combined with folic acid slowed shrinkage of gray matter in brain areas affected by Alzheimer’s disease. “These vitamins, in combination with a comprehensive management plan to improve and protect memory loss, is essential for AD management in 2013″ comments Dr. Richard Isaacson, Harvard-trained Neurologist and co-author of the best-selling new Alzheimer’s Diet book (with Columbia-trained nutrition expert Dr. Ochner), and author of the new book Alzheimer’s Treatment Alzheimer’s Prevention: A Patient & Family Guide.  This is the latest of a steady drumbeat of research that suggests diet, exercise and socializing remain patients’ best hope (click here to read the Bloomberg article to learn more).

With so much information bombarding us every day through TV commercials, the internet, apps, and more, it’s difficult to sort through it all when it comes to what’s best for our health. When it comes to vitamins, there is some exciting news; but how do vitamins work in Alzheimer’s prevention and treatment and which are recommended for the Alzheimers diet?

vitamins for Alzheimer's prevention

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Food for Thought: Are Medical Foods like Axona Recommended for Alzheimers?

Posted by on Tuesday, May 14th, 2013

Several nutritional strategies are the new claim to fame when it comes to improving symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and also for Alzheimers prevention. When it comes to the comprehensive approach to a person with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease, using a medical food for the clinical dietary management of AD is now an option. The newest available choice is called Axona and this is currently available by prescription from a physician, and may be used in combination with currently available FDA-approved drugs.  To learn more about Axona, read this blog post, but in brief, it is supplied as a powder that is mixed with a liquid and consumed after a big meal (breakfast or lunch) once each day. To read more about the differences between medical foods, drugs (or medications), and supplements for AD, read Alzheimer’s Treatment Alzheimer’s Prevention: A Patient and Family Guide.  Axona, which contains caprylic triglyceride, is a medium-chain triglyceride that is broken down by the liver into ketone bodies. Ketone bodies can be used by the brain as an alternative fuel source to glucose, which is the brain’s usual energy supply. It has been known for some time that the brains of patients with AD have a decreased ability to use glucose, and thus ketone bodies may improve cognitive function. Based on the initial study (Henderson, 2009), Axona has been shown to have a positive effect on memory and thinking skills in a specific group of patients (depends on genetic factors). Even more recent evidence shows that roughly 13% of APOE4 negative patients may have a dramatic increase in cognitive functioning (also most likely attributable to genetic factors). An ongoing clinical trial will further study Axona, click here for more details.

Another medical food that is sometimes prescribed by physicians is called Cerefolin, which provides the body with B12, folate, and antioxidants in an effort to assist in eliminating oxidative stress.  While many doctors have suggested this to their patients with memory loss, there is less data to support its effectiveness. That being said, there has been significant research on using these types of vitamins for brain health and much of this evidence is convincing (for example, B-vitamins slowing shrinkage of the memory centers of the brain). It is always suggested to have a discussion with the treating physician regarding medical foods for Alzheimer’s disease as a component of an Alzheimers diet and proper Alzheimers nutrition.

Supplements in the Alzheimer's Diet

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