November is Alzheimer’s Awareness month and according to the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, as many as 5.1 million Americans suffer from this mind-bending disease.
A is for Alzheimer’s
Alzheimer’s Disease is the most common form of dementia, a universal term for memory loss and other intellectual abilities serious enough to impair daily living. While Alzheimer’s is not a normal part of aging, it is the greatest known risk factor. Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease and worsens over time. In the early stages, memory loss is mild, but eventually individuals lose the ability to carry on a conversation and respond to their environment. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States.
Currently, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, but treatments for symptoms are available and research is ongoing. Scientists are constantly striving to find better ways to treat the disease, delay its onset, and most importantly, prevent it from developing.
B is for B12
Several studies have been conducted to establish a link between vitamin B12 and Alzheimer’s. One recent study published in the journal, Neurology, found that deficient vitamin B12 levels corresponded to both a decline in cognitive ability and a decrease in brain volume. Brain atrophy (a loss of cells that causes areas of the brain to actually become smaller) has been clearly identified as one of the physical effects of Alzheimer’s disease.
C is for Calcium
Links between calcium deficiency and Alzheimer’s disease have also been observed. According to research out of Japan’s Kobe University, proper calcium intake, taken with an active form of vitamin D, can actually lessen some of the risks associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Additionally, deficient calcium levels have been observed in adults with anxiety and headache.
D is for Vitamin D
The largest study yet to find an association between low levels of vitamin D and dementia was published in the August 2014 edition of the online journal Neurology. Researchers found that older adults with too little vitamin D in their blood may have twice the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease as seniors with sufficient levels of the so-called “sunshine vitamin.” Not only that, but the study which was based on more than 1,600 adults over age 65, found the risk for Alzheimer’s and dementia increased with the severity of the vitamin D deficiency.