Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia, is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States. There is not yet a cure for Alzheimer’s, nor is there an exact known cause. What does exist, however, is continuous research on the risk factors and symptoms associated with the disease and potential ways to make life easier for Alzheimer’s patients and their caregivers.
Recently, antioxidants have been examined as a potential weapon in the fight against Alzheimer’s. Antioxidants go to bat for your body’s cells every day and have already been considered as a means to improve skin and muscles. In Alzheimer’s patients, antioxidants are now under review for their ability to lessen the presence of amino acids that are associated with illness.
Researchers at the Catholic University of San Antonio in Murcia, Spain recently conducted an eight-month long study on the effect of regular intake of antioxidant-rich beverages on homocysteine production levels. Homocysteine is an amino acid that has been associated with inflammation and cardiovascular ailments, both of which are common in Alzheimer’s patients. The study results concluded that, “patients that took [antioxidant-rich beverages] show lower increase in homocysteine concentrations (especially patients of the moderate phase Alzheimer’s Disease).” In other words, patients (especially those who had not yet reached advanced phases of the disease) did not produce as much of the sickness-causing amino acids when they regularly consumed the antioxidant-rich beverages as those who did not.
The controlled clinic trial consisted of 100 women who were randomly divided into two groups, one of which was given a polyphenol-rich antioxidant beverage and the other which was given a placebo. The 100 women consisted of 48 patients (with varying degrees of Alzheimer’s disease) and 52 women without Alzheimer’s. According to researchers, the results “suggest that [an] antioxidant drink diminishes cardiovascular risk associated to hyperhomocysteinemia in Alzheimer’s patients.” A previous study on the higher rates of cardiovascular disease in children with a genetic condition causing extreme elevation in homocysteine levels supports the results of the researchers.
Antioxidants have a known and established role of protecting cells; however, research continues to shed light on other potential health benefits that they may provide.