Supplements Archives

Souvenaid and Alzheimer’s Disease

Souvenaid, in its second clinical trial, has been proven to help the memory of people who suffer from mild Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Results of the trial were given at the 4th International Conference on Clinical Trials in Alzheimer’s Disease (CTAD) by Philip Scheltens, MD, PhD in San Diego in early November. Scheltens is head of the Alzheimer Center at the VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam.

Souvenaid has a unique mixture of nutrients that work by stimulating the connections between nerves, also known as synapses. Losing these connections is what many experts think is responsible for losing memory in Alzheimer’s patients.  Studies demonstrate that the nutrients in Souvenaid can help grow new synapses in the brain. People taking Souvenaid daily over three months had improved scores on memory tests.

Scheltens is cautiously optimistic about the new findings. More research needs to be done before any conclusions can be drawn, but he thinks it is a step in the right direction.

Souvenir II was completed at  27 centers in six countries in Europe to see if the effects from Souvenir I would last for eight weeks. This study used additional measures to test for recall and also measured brain activity. Of 259 subjects, over 91% finished the study.

Memory was tested at the beginning, at 12 weeks, and at 24 weeks. The composite score was gotten from the Rey Audtiory Verbal Test which tests instant recall, delayed memory, and recognition. The Wechlser Scale which tested verbal association was also used.

Over the 24 weeks, the total scores from the Souvenaid group were much higher than those from the control group. Besides just looking at memory scores, they are attempting to analyze the electroencephalogram and magnetoencephalogram data, which may help figure out the influence  Souveniad has on synapse building in patients with Alzehimer’s disease and dementia.

CTAD is sponsored by the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and the European Alzheimer’s Disease Consortium (EADC).

Carmellia sinesis foliage

Green tea is my favorite drink and is in the news again. Now it’s exciting to hear that green tea may help prevent Alzheimer’s disease. The latest news comes out of Newcastle University where Dr. Edward Okello, executive director of the university’s Medicinal Plant Research Group, reports that when green tea is digested by the body, the polyphenol compounds that are in green tea will produce new chemicals that can protect the cells from toxic damage and hence, reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. The digested chemicals also slowed down the rate of cancer growth.

Digestion is the critical component. Because we put foods into our body that we consider “healthy,” it does not mean that out body absorbs the nutrients. At noranagatani.com, I have a post about enzymes. There is also a fascinating book on enzymes written by DiQue Fuller, Ph. D. Click this link or the link to the right — The Healing Power of Enzymes.

In the United States, black tea has been the predominant tea, but green tea is becoming more popular. What is green tea? It is tea whose leaves have been steamed and dried without fermenting and therefore, there’s minimal oxidation during processing. It originates from the leaves of Camellia sinensis. The green tea that I like is the Japanese version. Over the years, they have improved on the quality and taste from the original import from China over 500 years ago. Alibaba.com has a discussion of the difference between Chinese green tea and Japanese green tea in case you are considering green tea in your diet.

The study, “In vitro protective effects of colon-available extract of Camellia sinensis (tea) against hydrogen peroxide and beta-amyloid (A(1-42)) induced cytotoxicity in differentiated PC12 cells,” was published in Phytomedicine. The next step is for the team to test whether the beneficial compounds are produced during digestion after healthy human volunteers consume tea polyphenols. Perhaps, one day, green tea might be the simple answer we’re looking for to help prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

Vitamin B12 Deficiency and Cognitive Impairment

In my last post, I wrote about omega-3 fatty acid, a common supplement easily obtained. Vitamin B-12 is another supplement that may support brain health. According to the Oxford Project to Investigate Memory and Aging (OPTIMA), coordinated out of the University of Oxford, providing supplemental B vitamins to older adults with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) could slow age-related brain atrophy. Higher homocysteine (Hcy) levels appear to be linked with a faster rate of brain atrophy and cognitive decline, and using B vitamin supplements to lower those levels could preserve mental well-being.

The researchers concluded that the accelerated rate of brain atrophy in older adults with MCI can be slowed by intervention with B vitamins. They also stated 16 percent of adults over age 70 have MCI, and half of these develop Alzheimer’s disease, with adults with MCI who have accelerated brain atrophy more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease. Therefore, they suggested further trials are needed to see if the B vitamin treatment could delay this progression.

Daniel Fabricant, Ph.D., vice president, global government and scientific affairs, Natural Products Association (NPA), commented, “This study is important because it emphasizes the importance of prevention. Also, it noted over time, people don’t sustain their levels of B vitamins and tend to have problems assimilating enough of them, particularly B12, from the diet. This will serve as a keystone for other research and longer term studies that can look at the potential of B vitamins as a preventive tool.” Click here to read the full article.

If you take a multi-vitamin, check to make sure B12 is included. Centrum Silver has 25 mcg which is 417% above the average daily recommended amount. Personally I take one of two vitamins — VitaOne contains 60 mcg of B12 (1,000%) and VitaChe contains 200 mcg of B12 (3,333%). Now I know why it gives me so much energy.

If you don’t take supplements, it may be a good idea to take B-12 supplements to avoid risk of deficiency of the vitamin.

Happy New Year! I hope 2011 is off to a good start for you and your loved ones. I thought I’d start off the year by writing about an article that appeared in Medical News Today. A study published in the November edition of Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association suggests that taking docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) may improve memory and learning in older adults with mild cognitive impairments. DHA is an omega-3 fatty acid. This is promising news for many aging Americans who are searching for options to maintain memory and support overall cognitive health.

DHA is something contained in fish oil capsules that you can buy over-the counter at any drug store or large box stores such as Walmart or Costco. They vary in the amount of DHA so you will need to read the label. There is also a prescription fish oil called Lovaza that contains 375 mg of DHA. The particular brand that I take has a warning: Do not use with anticoagulant and platelet-inhibiting drugs like aspirin, etc. I wrote about other warnings in another blog. Read more here.

The study found that DHA taken for six months improved memory and learning in healthy, older adults with mild memory complaints. This study underscored the importance of early intervention and the necessity of taking supplements over a period of time. According to Duffy MacKay, N.D., vice president, scientific & regulatory affairs, for the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), “When included as a part of a proactive health regimen that includes a well-balanced diet, regular physical activity and routine visits with a healthcare professional, dietary supplements offer an important tool to help support many systems in the body, including memory and cognitive function.” To read the full article, click here.

My warmest wishes for a very healthy year ahead!