Low Vitamin D linked to cognitive decline in the elderly

Vitamin D may be best recognized for its role in helping the body absorb calcium, which maintains bone strength and thus protects against osteoporosis and fracture.

But low Vitamin D levels have also been connected in recent research to higher cardiovascular risk (especially risk of stroke), higher risk of certain kinds of cancer (such as colorectal cancer), and even higher risk of coming down with a cold or the flu.

Now here’s still more news about Vitamin D’s impact on health: two new studies “add to the evidence that older people with low levels of Vitamin D may be more likely to suffer from cognitive impairment.”

One study looked at about 150 people aged 70 and older living on their own. All were given a standard 30-point test that is used to screen for cognitive impairment. Results showed that the lower the participants’ Vitamin D levels, the lower their score on the test.

The second study involved 752 women, aged 75 and older, of whom 129 had vitamin D levels that were below 10 nanograms per milliliter, indicating Vitamin D deficiency. (Vitamin D deficiency is generally quite common among older women.) Those with this low level of the vitamin were found to be about twice as likely to have cognitive impairment, as measured by a standard test of cognitive skills, as those with higher Vitamin D levels.

These studies do show an interesting correlation between low Vitamin D levels and cognitive impairment. But now researchers are planning specific studies to see whether supplementing with Vitamin D can improve the symptoms of people with Parkinson’s disease, or decrease the chances that healthy older people will develop cognitive impairment or dementia. We’ll certainly stay tuned!

The two studies were presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology. We read about them first in an online article at the site WebMD: “Low Vitamin D Level Tied to Cognitive Decline Study Shows Elderly People With Higher Vitamin D Levels Performed Better on Mental Tests.”

See the NYBC entries on Vitamin D for further information: http://www.newyorkbuyersclub.org

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Supplement recommendations in “The Ultramind Solution” by Dr. Mark Hyman

NOTE: NOW SEE NYBC’S LOW-COST ALTERNATIVE TO THE ULTRAMIND SOLUTION MULTIVITAMIN PACK–

https://nybc.wordpress.com/2011/04/02/nybcs-brainpower-multi-pak-low-cost-ultramind-solution/

One-third less than the over-priced “Ultramind Solution” supplements!

The UltraMind Solution: Fix Your Broken Brain by Healing Your Body First
Mark Hyman, M.D.

This is one of many books published in recent years that seek to translate the enormous body of research findings from the last few decades about nutrition and brain function into simple, useful guidelines for improving and maintaining good mental functioning and psychological well-being. While it’s a popularizing text (Dr. Hyman has even been on Martha Stewart–see link below!), this book does, we feel, accurately register many important trends in our knowledge of nutrition and nutritional supplements and how these factors relate to mental health.

Here’s the statistic that sets off Dr. Hyman’s project: one in three Americans suffer from some kind of “brain dysfunction” (one term in use: “brain fog”), including symptoms such as depression, anxiety, memory loss, attention deficit disorder, autism, and dementia.

“The Ultramind Solution” contends that revising your diet–changing your nutritional intake–can often make a huge difference in these symptoms. Dr. Hyman’s recommendations focus both on weeding out elements that adversely affect the system (too much sugar, poorly chosen carbs, alcohol, cigarettes), and sticking to a menu of what’s good, especially what’s good for brain function: 1) omega fatty acids (found in salmon, sardines, flaxseed); 2) amino acid sources (nuts, lean meats); 3) high-quality carbs (for example, beans, peas, and lentils); 4) phyto-nutrients (plant foods containing antioxidants and other helpful substances, like blueberries, cilantro, etc.).

Finally, Dr. Hyman observes that, since more than 90% of Americans don’t get adequate nutrients from food (a finding of an often-cited US government survey), people realistically will need to supplement at least periodically in several key categories: 1) a multivitamin; 2) fish oil (omega fatty acids); 3) Calcium/Magnesium; 3) Vitamin D; 4) B complex vitamins; 5) probiotics (for good digestion/absorption of nutrients); and 6) occasionally a sleep aid like melatonin to insure a good amount of rest.

Here are some NYBC suggestions for supplementing in the categories recommended by Dr. Hyman:

Multivitamins: Added protection with Iron (Douglas) ; Added Protection without Iron (Douglas) – recommended for those with liver conditions; Opti-Pack – iron-free (SuperNutrition); Super Immune Multivitamin – iron-free (SuperNutrition)

Fish oil: Max DHA (Jarrow); ProOmega (Nordic Naturals) 60 caps; ProOmega (Nordic Naturals) 180 caps;

For Calcium, Magnesium, Vitamin D, NYBC recommends Bone-Up (Jarrow), which provides all three nutrients in the most useful dosages.

B complex vitamins: B-right (Jarrow)

Probiotics: NYBC recommends Jarrodophilus EPS (Jarrow) because it doesn’t require refrigeration. But other probiotics may be useful as well–see the Probiotics entry on the NYBC website.

NYBC also stocks Melatonin in several formats.

See Dr. Hyman on Martha Stewart:
http://www.marthastewart.com/portal/site/mslo/menuitem.3a0656639de62ad593598e10d373a0a0/?vgnextoid=0f545e9ea969e110VgnVCM1000003d370a0aRCRD&vgnextfmt=default

Gingko Biloba used for dementia and for Alzheimer’s Disease

The University of Maryland Medical Center’s Complementary Medicine website, reviews recent studies of gingko biloba for dementia, cognitive decline, and Alzheimer’s disease. Here is an excerpt:

Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease

Ginkgo is widely used in Europe for treating dementia. It use is primarily due to its ability to improve blood flow to the brain and because of its antioxidant properties. The evidence that ginkgo may improve thinking, learning, and memory in people with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) has been highly promising.

Clinical studies suggest that ginkgo may provide the following benefits for people with AD:

Improvement in thinking, learning, and memory (cognitive function)
Improvement in activities of daily living
Improvement in social behavior
Fewer feelings of depression

Several studies have found that ginkgo may be as effective as leading AD medications in delaying the symptoms of dementia in people with this debilitating condition. In addition, ginkgo is sometimes used preventively because it may delay the onset of AD in someone who is at risk for this type of dementia (for example, family history).

Citation (one of several recent studies cited by UMMC): Mazza M, Capuano A, Bria P, Mazza S. Ginkgo biloba and donepezil [Aricept]: a comparison in the treatment of Alzheimer’s dementia in a randomized placebo-controlled double-blind study. Eur J Neurol . 2006;13(9):981-5.

See also the NYBC entry on Gingko Biloba for additional information on use of this botanical for cognitive function.