An intriguing new study out of Germany suggests vitamin C and beta-carotene may help to stave off dementia and other cognitive problems tied to Alzheimer’s disease.
That conclusion, by researchers from the University of Ulm, is based on research involving 74 Alzheimer’s patients that found significantly lower levels of the antioxidants vitamin C and beta-carotene in their blood, compared to 158 other healthy people.
The study, published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, suggests people with the condition – or at risk of developing it – may benefit from a boost in their vitamin C and beta-carotene levels through supplements or dietary changes.
Lead researcher Gabriele Nagel called the findings positive, suggesting, “It might thus be possible to influence the pathogenesis of [Alzheimer’s] by a person's diet or dietary antioxidants.” But Nagel added: "Longitudinal studies with more participants are necessary to confirm the result that vitamin C and beta-carotene might prevent the onset and development of Alzheimer's disease."
Alzheimer’s is a neurodegenerative disease tied to alterations in the brain caused by a buildup of substances known as amyloid-beta-plaques. Past studies have suggested antioxidants – such as vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, lycopene and coenzyme Q10 – might protect against Alzheimer’s.
Vitamin C is found in citrus fruits; beta-carotene in carrots, spinach or apricots.