Low levels of vitamin C and beta-carotene could be clues to the onset of Alzheimers disease, suggesting the possibility of dietary factors against dementia. Writing in the Journal of Alzheimers Disease, German researchers report that a small study comparing antioxidant levels in the blood of healthy seniors with those of Alzheimers patients found vitamin C and beta-carotene were significantly lower in the Alzheimers group.
The population-based study looked at 74 Alzheimers patients and 158 healthy controls, ages 65-90, who underwent neuropsychological testing, answered lifestyle questions and had blood drawn. While significant differences were found for vitamin C and beta-carotene, no such gap was seen for other nutrients tested- such as vitamin E and lycopene. Adjustments were made not only for education and BMI, but also for smoking status and current dietary supplement use.
Researchers cautioned that their findings showed only an association, not a causal connection, but suggested that long-term studies with more participants might discover more about dietary factors and Alzheimers.