With more than 55 million people worldwide now suffering from dementia, and around 10 million new cases occurring every year, finding effective ways to prevent and treat cognitive decline is becoming an increasingly challenging global healthcare problem. Despite billions of dollars having been spent by pharmaceutical companies in this field, drug research has failed to find effective solutions. Significantly, therefore, while essentially ignored by the mainstream media, a growing body of evidence suggests that vitamins play a role in the prevention of cognitive decline. A new study from China adds to this evidence by confirming a lower prevalence of cognitive impairment in adults who take daily vitamin supplements.
Published in the journal Nutrients, the Chinese study assessed the cognitive status of 892 adults between July 2019 and January 2022. All aged over 50, the participants were divided into four separate groups according to their degree of cognitive impairment: a normal control group, a subjective cognitive decline group, a mild cognitive impairment group, and an Alzheimer’s disease group.
The researchers found a lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease in participants with mild cognitive impairment who took vitamin D on a daily basis. They also saw a lower risk of cognitive impairment in those with normal cognition who consumed vitamin D, folic acid, or CoQ10 on a daily basis, and a lower risk of cognitive impairment in participants with normal cognitive performance who took B vitamin supplements either daily or occasionally.
Based on these findings, the researchers recommend daily vitamin supplementation – especially B vitamins – as a potential preventive measure to slow cognitive decline and neurodegeneration in the elderly. For those who already suffer from cognitive impairment, they conclude that vitamin D supplementation may also be beneficial.
The findings of the Chinese study build on a mounting body of evidence that micronutrient-based approaches are helpful in the prevention and control of cognitive impairment. This is particularly the case regarding B vitamins, for which there is now convincing evidence that they help prevent dementia.
A review published in the Nutrients journal in 2022 found that either given alone or in combination with other B vitamins, the most effective vitamin against dementia is folic acid. This review also suggested that the combined use of folic acid and vitamin B12 may be linked to a lower risk of cognitive decline. In fact, the researchers stated outright that very promising results were shown in most of the trials in which these two vitamins were given concomitantly.
These researchers also found that vitamin B1 not only had a positive impact on cognitive performance when given alone, but also when given in combination with folic acid. Supplementing folic acid along with docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), an omega-3 fatty acid, also proved to significantly improve cognitive function.
Other research similarly supports the synergistic effects of B vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2015 found these micronutrients can halt the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Carried out over a period of two years by scientists at the University of Oxford in the UK, it followed 168 elderly people and showed that, for participants with high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, a combination of B vitamins prevented brain shrinkage, a hallmark of the devastating condition.
Reflecting the micronutrient synergy approach pioneered by scientists at the Dr. Rath Research Institute, there is increasing use of micronutrient combinations in Alzheimer’s disease studies. As opposed to using individual micronutrients alone, this helps to maximize their biological effect.
Illustrating this principle, a review published in the Open Biology journal in 2020 examined the role of antioxidants such as astaxanthin, vitamin C, and vitamin E in the prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. Authored by researchers from the University of Western Australia, the paper describes how evidence is accumulating that, through taking advantage of their synergistic effects, combinations of antioxidants may be effective not only in preventing Alzheimer’s disease but also in reversing it. Advising combining antioxidant supplements with a nutrient-rich diet, the researchers say such an approach may also be effective against other neurodegenerative diseases.
Studies are also increasingly recognizing the importance of vitamin C in the fight against Alzheimer’s. Illustrating this, a meta-analysis published in the Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience journal in 2022 examined a total of 12 studies that were published over a 21-year period (2000-2021). The analysis revealed that, compared to healthy people, levels of vitamin C in Alzheimer’s patients are significantly decreased. Significantly, therefore, the researchers concluded that vitamin C supplementation is a plausible strategy for the disease’s prevention and treatment.
Intriguingly, one of the 12 studies examined in this meta-analysis evaluated a variety of nutritional factors associated with late-onset dementia of the Alzheimer’s type and concluded that decreased levels of several nutrients – including not just vitamin C but also vitamins B1, B6, B12, and E – may contribute to the development of the disorder.
Another study cited similarly noted a decline in plasma antioxidants and vitamins C, A, and E in Alzheimer’s patients, as well as lower levels of carotenoids such as lutein, alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, and lycopene. Such findings are clearly consistent with Dr. Matthias Rath’s revolutionary Cellular Medicine discovery that deficiencies of vitamins and other micronutrients are the primary cause of today’s most common chronic diseases.
With the benefits of nutrition for improving cognitive decline and dementia becoming increasingly clear, there is an urgent need for micronutrient-based therapies to be implemented into neurological clinical practice. Rather than desperately hoping that drug-based medicine will eventually come up with a ‘miracle cure’, patients, their families, and physicians deserve to know that effective, safe, natural options are already available.
A key problem, of course, is that it isn’t in the financial interest of the multinational pharmaceutical industry to prevent or cure dementia. Ageing societies, and the health conditions that result from them, have become a goldmine for drug companies. This is why currently approved drugs for dementia neither cure nor halt cognitive decline; at best they simply delay the worsening cognitive impairment.
As a result, the annual global cost of dementia now exceeds $1.3 trillion. Placing a huge strain on healthcare systems and families alike, this cost is expected to reach a staggering $2 trillion by 2030. This crisis can be averted, but time is of the essence. For health policy makers everywhere, implementing affordable science-based natural solutions needs to be seen as a social and financial imperative.