Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Does Beta-Carotene Protect Against Alzheimer's?

tidbits that tantalizeNo, Please - Not The Marshmallows...

OK, admit it. You're just not a big fan of sweet potatoes. It probably started with some horrible childhood Thanksgiving event. Something to do with ooey-gooey marshmallows menacing an otherwise perfectly acceptable root vegetable? Well, you're not alone. But...

New research indicates sweet potatoes may protect you from Alzheimer's. OK, that's not exactly what the results indicate. Still, you may want to rethink your sweet potato aversion.

Researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston say it's all about the beta-carotene. The results suggest long-term use of beta-carotene protects from the declines in memory and cognitive function that usually precede Alzheimer's.

The study tested both long and short-term beta-carotene supplementation. Both supplemented groups took 50mg of beta-carotene every other day, while the control group took a placebo. The short-term group consumed beta-carotene for an average of one year. The long-term group used the beta-carotene supplements for approximately 18 years. Both groups were comprised of healthy men.

The long-term users fared significantly better in cognitive function tests, especially the verbal memory component, than did the short-term users or the non-users. Beta-carotene is an antioxidant, and it's thought it protects the brain from oxidative damage.

There are potential increased cancer risks to some people, primarily smokers, who supplement with beta-carotene. So, before you jump on the beta-carotene bandwagon, study the issue closely, and don't exceed the recommended dosage.

Of course, there's always the safe, effective means of getting your beta-carotene - the sweet potato. Yikes!

To read more about the study, see this from Reuters. To read more about beta-carotene, including a list of foods with high levels of the antioxidant, see this from The World's Healthiest Foods.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is from PubMed.
Reduced risk of Alzheimer disease in users of antioxidant vitamin supplements: the Cache County Study.
Zandi PP, Anthony JC, Khachaturian AS, et al.

BACKGROUND: Antioxidants may protect the aging brain against oxidative damage associated with pathological changes of Alzheimer disease (AD). OBJECTIVE: To examine the relationship between antioxidant supplement use and risk of AD. DESIGN: Cross-sectional and prospective study of dementia. Elderly (65 years or older) county residents were assessed in 1995 to 1997 for prevalent dementia and AD, and again in 1998 to 2000 for incident illness. Supplement use was ascertained at the first contact. SETTING: Cache County, Utah. PARTICIPANTS: Among 4740 respondents (93%) with data sufficient to determine cognitive status at the initial assessment, we identified 200 prevalent cases of AD. Among 3227 survivors at risk, we identified 104 incident AD cases at follow-up. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE: Diagnosis of AD by means of multistage assessment procedures. RESULTS: Analyses of prevalent and incident AD yielded similar results. Use of vitamin E and C (ascorbic acid) supplements in combination was associated with reduced AD prevalence (adjusted odds ratio, 0.22; 95% confidence interval, 0.05-0.60) and incidence (adjusted hazard ratio, 0.36; 95% confidence interval, 0.09-0.99). A trend toward lower AD risk was also evident in users of vitamin E and multivitamins containing vitamin C, but we saw no evidence of a protective effect with use of vitamin E or vitamin C supplements alone, with multivitamins alone, or with vitamin B-complex supplements. CONCLUSIONS: Use of vitamin E and vitamin C supplements in combination is associated with reduced prevalence and incidence of AD. Antioxidant supplements merit further study as agents for the primary prevention of AD.

8:49 PM  
Blogger Sylvia C. said...

Hey Tim,

I love me a good sweet potato dish.
Especially with all that baked on brown sugar and pecans.


Hope you are doing well!


Sylvia C.

9:08 PM  
Blogger tim said...


Thanks for the info. from PubMed. It's good to see AD research pursuing a variety of interventions.

Sylvia C:

How good of you to stop by!

I'm not surprised you're a sweet potato fan - and a fan of all the brown sugar and pecans. Me? A simple baked sweet potato, drizzled with some olive oil is out of this world delicious...

Have a fabulous week,


8:43 AM  

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