Dementia is a general term which describes an overall decline in mental ability that is severe enough to interfere with daily life. Alzheimer’s is the most well-known and most common type of dementia, although there are other less-common types of dementia.
While many people might accept that a decline in cognitive skills and memory is just part and parcel of the natural aging process, that isn’t the case. Often, mental decline can be the result of small amounts of damage to the brain, which add up to noticeable mental impairments over time. And, while a dementia diagnosis can seem daunting, many people live well for years following their diagnosis.
In the hopes of preventing the onset and progression of dementia, people often turn to natural remedies, including vitamins. While the research isn’t 100% in favor of any specific supplement or regimen, there are some vitamins and minerals that are said to offer cognitive benefits. Given that vitamin deficiencies can be a cause of dementia, it makes sense that supplementing is a popular alternative treatment choice.
Mostly, aging bodies tend to have less of these vitamins available in the body, and supplementation can help restore the body to healthy levels. However, anyone considering adding vitamin or mineral supplements to their daily routine should first discuss it with their healthcare provider to ensure that there are no potential interactions with health conditions or other medications. With the above information in mind, here are nine of the best vitamins for dementia patients.
Vitamins E and C
Research shows that those who eat a diet rich in vitamins C and E have a 20-25% lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Additionally, vitamin E and C levels are often low in people with dementia. For those in the early stages of dementia, supplementing with vitamin E on a daily basis has been shown to slow the progression of the disease, while daily supplementation of 400 to 800 IU per day of vitamin E may help to protect older adults from developing dementia.
While vitamin D deficiency hasn’t yet been found to be a direct cause of dementia, research shows there is a strong link between the two. Especially for those who don’t live along the equator, supplementing with this essential vitamin may improve overall health and well-being. It also has benefits to the skeletal and cardiovascular system.
The University of Maryland Medical Center found that daily supplementation of 30 mg to 40 mg of zinc could help improve the cognitive functioning and memory of those suffering from dementia. Zinc deficiency is common among older adults.
The University of Maryland Medical Center also found that a daily dose of 50 mg of vitamin B1 can be helpful for those with dementia. Studies done by the University have shown this particular B vitamin to be effective in preventing the progression of dementia, as well as in helping maintain neuron and nerve connections.
Like vitamin B1, B6 helps improve nerve and brain function, as well as red cell production. Research shows that taking a combination of vitamins B12, B6, and folic acid over a two-year period helps to slow brain volume shrinkage. Patients with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease often have lower brain volume than healthy individuals.
Vitamin B12 and Folic Acid
Research out of Rush University Medical Center shows that high levels of a particular amino acid in the blood is often linked to dementia, but that by supplementing with 100 mcg to 1,000 mcg of vitamin B12, and 400 mcg to 1,000 mcg of folic acid daily, they could reduce levels of this potentially harmful amino acid.
This herb has been shown to have potential benefits for those with dementia. Research finds that people with Alzheimer's disease who take panax ginseng root daily for 12 weeks have improved mental performance.
According to the University of Michigan Health System, this naturally occurring brain compound helps to boost certain levels of chemicals crucial for retaining and processing memories. There are both plant and animal sources available, with animal-sourced phosphatidylserine being more effective. It can be taken up to three times daily.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Not only do omega-3 vitamins help improve hair, skin, and nails, they provide benefits to the cardiovascular and neurological systems. Supplementing with this essential fatty acid is a good idea at any age, but especially for aging persons. Studies show that those who regularly supplement with omega-3 fatty acids perform better on cognitive and memory tasks versus those who receive a placebo.
Many people, including those who are not currently experiencing any signs or symptoms of cognitive decline, may benefit from targeted supplementation of essential vitamins and minerals. While there is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, ensuring that the body has adequate levels of essential nutrients may help to ward off disease and improve well-being. Be sure to discuss any plans for taking vitamins or mineral supplements with your healthcare provider to avoid potentially dangerous impacts on your health.