Sunday, January 5, 2014

Vitamin C to Prevent and Ease Alzheimer’s

Recent Studies

What causes Alzheimer’s Disease? No one knows the answer. But multiple studies confirm the important link between heart disease and Alzheimer’s Disease. Since it is a proven fact that vitamin C can reverse atherosclerosis in coronary arteries, why it can be helpful to reverse Alzheimer’s?

Doctors skepticism over the therapeutic value of vitamin C can be largely explained by the fact that it doesn’t work for the common cold. However, Linus Pauling, two-time Nobel Prize winner, stressed for years that animals produce their own vitamin C and humans do not, and that the lack of this vitamin triggers hardening of arteries and coronary death.

Now, Dr. Sydney Bush, an English researcher, has convincing evidence that Pauling was right. Bush has shown that high doses of vitamin C, and the amino acid lysine, reverse atherosclerosis in retinal arteries.
This is a huge finding because if large doses of vitamin C can dissolve atherosclerosis in retinal vessels, good sense tells you it can have the same effect on coronary arteries and those in the brain. And if treatment started earlier in life vitamin C could have an immense impact on these diseases.

While these new findings give a wholly new direction for the Alzheimer’s prevention strategies, vitamin C can be also helpful, when the disease is already in progress.

A major stumbling block to treating brain disorders is the blood-brain barrier. This safety net that shields our brain from foreign substances also prevents needed medications from getting to damaged cells. But scientists may have found a way around the problem. When ascorbic acid -- better known as vitamin C -- is chemically attached to certain drugs, it allows them to penetrate the barrier, reaching more of its target cells within the brain.

"We've opened a door for a promising new way to improve delivery of drugs into the brain using a natural nutrient, ascorbic acid," says study leader Stefano Manfredini, professor of pharmaceutical chemistry at the University of Ferrara, Italy.

According to another new research, vitamin C could play even more significant role in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease. Recent mouse studies revealed that vitamin C could have the potential to aid patients with Alzheimer's disease. These recent findings suggest that treating Alzheimer's disease with vitamin C could dissolve certain toxic proteins found in the brains of those with Alzheimer's disease. These proteins are known as beta-amyloid plaques.

The study, published in the Biological Chemistry Journal, involved a research team from Lund University who used vitamin C to directly treat brain tissue in mice with Alzheimer's disease.

“When we treated brain tissue from mice suffering from Alzheimer’s disease with vitamin C, we could see that the toxic protein aggregates were dissolved. Our results show a previously unknown model for how vitamin C affects the amyloid plaques”, says Katrin Mani, reader in Molecular Medicine at Lund University.

“Another interesting finding is that the useful vitamin C does not need to come from fresh fruit. In our experiments, we show that the vitamin C can also be absorbed in larger quantities in the form of dehydroascorbic acid from juice that has been kept overnight in a refrigerator, for example”.

Much recent research has gone into vitamin C and its role in treating a number of diseases. Based upon this mouse study, researchers suggest that with further research, vitamin C may be a simple way to treat or prevent Alzheimer's disease.

Another study by German scientists - Gabriele Nagel and Christine von Arnim - professors of epidemiology and neurology from the University of Ulm, Germany, have discovered that the concentration of vitamin C and beta-carotene in blood are significantly lower in patients with mild dementia than in people without them.

Scientists said that it might thus be possible to influence the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s by a person’s diet or dietary antioxidants.

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What is vitamin C?

Because of its widespread use as a dietary supplement, vitamin C may be more familiar to the general public than any other nutrient. Studies indicate that more than 40% of older individuals in the U.S. take vitamin C supplements; and in some regions of the country, almost 25% of all adults, regardless of age, take vitamin C. Outside of a multivitamin, vitamin C is also the most popular supplement among some groups of registered dietitians, and 80% of the dietitians who take vitamin C take more than 250 milligrams.

Vitamin C, also called ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble nutrient that is easily excreted from the body when not needed. It's so critical to living creatures that almost all mammals can use their own cells to make it. Humans, gorillas, chimps, bats, guinea pigs and birds are some of the few animals that cannot make vitamin C inside of their own bodies.

Humans vary greatly in their vitamin C requirement. It's natural for one person to need 10 times as much vitamin C as another person; and a person's age and health status can dramatically change his or her need for vitamin C. The amount of vitamin C found in food varies as dramatically as our human requirement. In general, an unripe food is much lower in vitamin C than a ripe one, but provided that the food is ripe, the vitamin C content is higher when the food is younger at the time of harvest.

How it Functions?

Vitamin C serves a predominantly protective role in the body. As early as the 1700's, vitamin C was referred to as the "antiscorbutic factor," since it helped prevent the disease called scurvy. This disease was first discovered in British sailors, whose sea voyages left them far away from natural surroundings for long periods of time. Their body stores of vitamin C fell below 300 milligrams, and their gums and skin lost the protective effects of vitamin C. Recognizing limes as a good shipboard source of vitamin C, the British sailors became known as "limeys" for carrying large stores of limes aboard ship.

The protective role of vitamin C goes far beyond our skin and gums. Cardiovascular diseases, cancers, joint diseases and cataracts are all associated with vitamin C deficiency and can be partly prevented by optimal intake of vitamin C. Vitamin C achieves much of its protective effect by functioning as an antioxidant and preventing oxygen-based damage to our cells. Structures that contain fat (like the lipoprotein molecules that carry fat around our body) are particularly dependent on vitamin C for protection.

Food Sources

Excellent food sources of vitamin C include broccoli, bell peppers, parsley, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, lemon juice, strawberries, mustard greens, kiwifruit, papaya, kale, cabbage, romaine lettuce, turnip greens, oranges, cantaloupe, summer squash, grapefruit, pineapple, chard, tomatoes, collard greens, raspberries, spinach, green beans, fennel, cranberries, asparagus, watermelon, and winter squash.

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The National Academy of Sciences set a Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) for vitamin C at 2,000 milligrams (2 grams) for adults 19 years or older.

Based on the latest studies, it is recommended to take 500 mg doses three times a day as preventive measure to minimize risk of Alzheimer’s and some other clinical diseases.

Vitamin C Side Effects

Before taking ascorbic acid, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you have any allergies. This product may contain inactive ingredients, which can cause allergic reactions or other problems. Talk to your pharmacist for more details.

Before using this vitamin, tell your doctor or pharmacist your medical history, especially of:
* kidney disease (such as kidney stones)
* a certain enzyme deficiency (G6PD deficiency)

During pregnancy, this vitamin has been found to be safe when used in recommended doses. Higher doses should be used during pregnancy only if clearly needed. Discuss the risks and benefits with your doctor.

This vitamin passes into breast milk and is considered to be safe during breast-feeding when used in recommended doses. Consult your doctor for more information.

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