8.30.2004

Jury still out on Alzheimer's and vitamins, according to the Berkeley Wellness Letter, but hints suggest that intervention brings benefits


The excerpt below is a view from Canada (Canoe.CA)

Can C and E prevent Alzhimer's? Nearly five million people in North America have Alzheimer's disease. Though prevention is not yet within our grasp, claims are made daily as to the power of various vitamin and mineral supplements -- most of them expensive and a waste of money.

According to the September issue of the Berkeley Wellness Letter, evidence for supplements has been missing or mixed. But a recent, credible study of 5,000 people over the age of 65 suggests that taking a combination of vitamins C and E may show some promise.

I say "may" because the study was based on what people remembered taking, not a clinical trial, and it was done for only three years, while Alzheimer's can take more years to develop. Those in the study also took large amounts of the vitamins -- at least 500 mg of C and at least 400 IU of E each day.

In a larger 19-year study of 13,388 women out of Harvard University, it was found high fruit and vegetable intake was associated with less mental decline.

So C plus E plus plenty of salad may be tomorrow's recipe for brain food.

Are you too sweet?

The World Health Organization has declared diabetes an epidemic: An aging, overweight population means that type 2 diabetes is a threat to millions worldwide.

High blood sugar eventually damages many of the body's organs and causes everything from blindness to heart disease and stroke.

According to the September issue of the Johns Hopkins Medical Letter, pre-diabetes is also a growing issue with more than 41 million North Americans affected. Pre-diabetes is defined by blood sugar levels that are higher than normal but not yet in the diabetic range.

However, symptoms are silent -- which is why anyone over the age of 45 (particularly if they're overweight) should be routinely tested by a fasting blood glucose test that measures the level of blood sugar. Even if you're younger, you should ask for such a test if you have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, a family history of diabetes, had diabetes during pregnancy or gave birth to a baby weighing more than nine pounds.

How to minimize your risk of prediabetes? Eat a healthy diet, exercise at least 150 minutes a week and lose weight if you need to.







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