Vitamin C & beta carotene could help stack the deck against cognitive decline – German study

Dietary antioxidants and dementia in a population-based case-control study among older people in South Germany
– Source: Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, Jun 18, 2012

By Christine AF von Arnim, et al.

[Note: Lead author Christine von Arnim is “head of the Memory Clinic and managing director of the interdisciplinary Centre of Geriatrics in Ulm” (Germany). Both vitamin C and beta carotene are nutrients the body uses to support membrane integrity.]

Oxidative stress* is believed to play a central role in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), a neurodegenerative disease.

Antioxidants may prevent the onset AD, as high dietary intake of vitamins C and E were reported to be associated with lower risk of the disease.

The objective of this study was to evaluate the serum levels of antioxidants in persons with mild dementia to test whether it is associated with lower levels of antioxidants in a cross-sectional study in the population of the “Activity and Function in the Elderly in Ulm” (ActiFE) study. [Involved a full assessment of 1,506 community dwelling older adults.]

Main exposure measures were:

• Vitamin C,

• Vitamin E,

• Beta-carotene (orange carotene plant pigment, which the body needs to produce vitamin A; also rich in dark green leaves, where orange is masked by the green chlorophyll pigment.)

• Lycopene (red carotene pigment, as in tomatoes),

• And coenzyme Q10…

… as analyzed by HPLC.

Main outcome measures were mild cognitive impairment among 74 mildly demented compared to 158 age- and gender-matched controls.

We found that blood vitamin C and beta-carotene concentrations were significantly lower in demented than in control persons even after adjusting for school education, intake of dietary supplements, smoking habits, body mass index, and alcohol consumption (3rd versus 1st tertile: OR: 0.29, 95% CI, 0.09–0.96 and 0.13, 95% CI, 0.03–0.55, respectively).

No associations were found for vitamin E, lycopene, and coenzyme Q10.

Our findings suggest an association of vitamin C and beta-carotene with dementia.

However this is limited to the cross-sectional character of our study [at one point in time] and longitudinal data will give further insight into this association.

Source: Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, Jun 18, 2012. PMID:22710913, by von Arnim CAF, Herbolsheimer F, Nikolaus T, Peter R, Biesalski HK, Ludolph AC, Riepe M, Nagel G. Department of Neurology, Institute of Epidemiology and Medical Biometry, and Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy II, Mental Health and Old Age Psychiatry, Ulm University, Ulm; Agaplesion Bethesda Clinic, Ulm; Department of Biological Chemistry and Nutrition, Food Security Center, University of Hohenheim, Stuttgart, Germany.

* Note: According to
Oxidative stress is “A condition which occurs when the production of free radicals in the human body exceeds the body’s ability to neutralize and eliminate them. Oxidative stress can result from a lack of antioxidants or from an over abundance free radicals. Exercise can increase levels of free radicals, increasing the risk of oxidative stress. Free radicals can react with key components of cells, including DNA, lipids, and protein, resulting in cellular damage.”

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