Inadequate supply of vitamins and DHA in the elderly: implications for brain aging and Alzheimer-type dementia.Nutrition 2015; 31(2):261-75N
Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the most prevalent, severe, and disabling cause of dementia worldwide. To date, AD therapy is primarily targeted toward palliative treatment of symptoms rather than prevention of disease progression. So far, no pharmacologic interventions have changed the onset or progression of AD and their use is accompanied by side effects. The major obstacle in managing AD and designing therapeutic strategies is the difficulty in retarding neuronal loss in the diseased brain once the pathologic events leading to neuronal death have started. Therefore, a promising alternative strategy is to maintain a healthy neuronal population in the aging brain for as long as possible. One factor evidently important for neuronal health and function is the optimal supply of nutrients necessary for maintaining normal functioning of the brain. Mechanistic studies, epidemiologic analyses, and randomized controlled intervention trials provide insight to the positive effects of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and micronutrients such as the vitamin B family, and vitamins E, C, and D, in helping neurons to cope with aging. These nutrients are inexpensive in use, have virtually no side effects when used at recommended doses, are essential for life, have established modes of action, and are broadly accepted by the general public. This review provides some evidence that the use of vitamins and DHA for the aging population in general, and for individuals at risk in particular, is a viable alternative approach to delaying brain aging and for protecting against the onset of AD pathology.