Alzheimer’s patients are often found to have an insufficient supply of certain micronutrients. Such nutrient deficiencies are associated with, among other things, an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s dementia (AD) and/or may accelerate the progression of the disease.
Epidemiological studies report the potential neuronal protective effects of various micronutrients, such as the B vitamin complex, antioxidants, selenium, vitamin D, and omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. These nutrients are associated with stimulation of neuronal plasticity and reduction of neurodegenerative processes. They also showed the ability to reduce the pathological load on the brain.
Oxidative stress plays a central role in the development and progression of Alzheimer’s disease. Since the brain is particularly vulnerable to oxidative damage for a variety of reasons, protective substances are therefore especially important for brain health. These so-called antioxidants are able to render oxygen radicals and other aggressive substances chemically harmless and optimize the cell’s own anti-oxidative defense mechanisms. Two key antioxidative vitamins for brain health are the vitamins C and E.
Selenium is an important trace element for the human organism and also plays a role as an antioxidant. Scientific studies suggest that a deficiency of selenium may increase the risk of dementia. This element is found in excess in some regions of the world and in low amounts in others, such as Germany. Both an oversupply and an undersupply of this important substance can be dangerous. Brazil nuts, which are grown in South America, have particularly high Selenium levels, also coconut pulp contains decent amounts of this trace element.
The B vitamins
Various vitamins from the group of B vitamins have different important functions especially in the area of the central nervous system. A deficiency of various B vitamins correlates with a wide variety of neurological problems. Lowered levels of one or more B vitamins are also usually observed in the various forms of dementia. Fish, seafood, dried mushrooms, yeast products, nuts, soybeans, spirulina, animal offal, and wheat germ contain decent amounts of vitamin B.
Omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, especially those from fatty fish and algae, appear to have multiple beneficial protective effects for our brain health. The most important representatives are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). For brain health, DHA in particular plays a crucial role. EPA and DHA are only ineffectively formed in the organism from the essential fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is predominantly found in vegetable oils such as linseed oil. Therefore, they should be supplied to the organism through appropriate nutrition (fatty sea fish, algae) and/or reasonable supplementation.
Lithium is a naturally occurring element in surface waters. Its concentration varies depending on the geographical region. In modern medicine, lithium is often used to prevent episodes of mania in patients with bipolar disorder. In contrast, very low-dose lithium acts more as a nutrient by exerting neuroprotective and neurotrophic effects. Studies have shown that very low-dose lithium improves memory performance in dementia patients. Epidemiological links also exist between lithium levels in drinking water and lower rates of psychiatric and neurodegenerative diseases.
The sunshine vitamin is actually not a vitamin, but a neurosteroid hormone. A torrent of scientific studies has now shown that vitamin D has multiple beneficial neurophysiological effects. Vitamin D deficiency is associated with a significantly increased risk of overall cognitive decline and is thus considered a risk factor for Alzheimer’s dementia.