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STRATEGIES TO REDUCE your RISK OF DEMENTIA/alzheimer's disease

Like most doctors, there was a time in my career when I looked down on dietary supplements. I believe this stemmed from a few factors. First, we just weren’t taught much about them in med school. Second, it was ingrained in us that anything that hasn’t been through positive randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trials should not be used. Last, we assumed that people ate healthy, nutrient-rich, balanced diets. That is clearly not the case.

For many reasons, I have done a 180 in regards to my thoughts on supplements. Not everybody needs to take a supplement, but many people may benefit from appropriate use. I take a number of them myself.

Today I focus on supplements that have been shown in some studies to reduce risk of developing one of the most feared chronic illnesses, early-onset dementia. The truth is that for many of these supplements, the data are mixed and in some cases not strong enough to convince all of the scientific community. However, there is also very little risk and most are relatively inexpensive. As such, there is a favorable potential benefit to potential risk profile for many supplements.

The prevalence of dementia is expected to double by 2050. Why? Well, risk factors such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, and environmental toxins are increasing. Moreover, modern medicine is allowing people to live longer with these chronic diseases.

Supplements to help REDUCE RISK OF DEMENTIA/alzheimer's disease

  • RESVERATROL – This antioxidant is present in foods like red grapes and wine, peanuts, and dark chocolate. There has been some evidence that resveratrol can slow progression or even delay onset of dementia. Data are truly mixed, and some studies only showed benefit at very high doses. However, resveratrol continues to be popular and is present in many dietary supplements.

  • VITAMIN D – This fat-soluble vitamin is critical for a number of body functions, including brain function. It is found in foods like eggs, fish, and cheese. There seems to be a connection between low vitamin D levels and Alzheimer’s. However, the causality is not clearly established at this point. We check vitamin D levels on all of our patients, and we find that many men are deficient. We very frequently recommend vitamin D supplements. It is important to note that it is possible to take too much vitamin D, which can be harmful. For men with documented deficiency, we usually recommend 5,000 to 10,000 IUs/day.

  • B-VITAMINS – Vitamin B12, B3, B6, and B9 can also help with cognitive function and nerve function in general, and perhaps lower your risk of dementia. Unlike vitamin D, the B vitamins are water-soluble and not stored in body fat. This means that you generally eliminate excess amounts in urine, and it is very difficult to consume toxic amounts. Therefore, taking a B-complex supplement is a no-brainer in my opinion. I take one every day.

  • OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS – Omega-3s are a type of fat that are commonly derived from oils from fatty fish such as herring, tuna, anchovies, and mackerel. There are other ways to get omega-3s (such as flaxseed or chia seeds), but fish oil is a very efficient way. Examples of omega-3s found in fish oil are DHA and EPA.  Omega-3s are examples of essential nutrients, meaning you have to get them from the foods you eat as your body does not produce them from scratch. Omega-3s are critical for supporting interactions between cells, and are most concentrated in the eyes and brain. It appears that for some people, omega-3 supplementation may reduce risk of dementia.  If you don’t get enough omega-3 in your diet, you should take a supplement. I take a fish oil supplement daily.

  • DAILY MULTIVITAMIN (MVI) – Recent studies have suggested that people who take a daily MVI may be at lower risk of developing dementia. Centrum Silver is one of the MVIs studied. I take an MVI called Men’s Nutrients from Pure Encapsulations every day.

  • CREATINE – I wrote about this in a previous blog post. I take 5g every day and love it.

We offer all of these products in our supplement section at The Men’s Center in Mount Pleasant. We purchase all of our supplements from Fullscript, a trusted company that third-party tests supplements and only endorses the highest quality choices. This is important, because dietary supplements are otherwise very poorly regulated. You can also purchase any of the Fullscript-tested supplements by accessing The Men’s Center Fullscript account . By using our account you can view all of our favorites as well as their entire supplement formulary. Setting up a Fullscript account via The Men’s Center link takes 10 seconds, is free, and gives you 10% off all supplements. There is also free shipping on all purchases over $50.

LIFESTYLE STRATEGIES TO REDUCE RISK OF DEMENTIA/Alzheimer's disease

A number of lifestyle strategies may help reduce dementia risk. I will write more about these things another time, but they include:

  • Being a non-smoker

  • Getting good sleep

  • Maintaining healthy weight

  • Maintaining healthy blood pressure

  • Maintaining healthy blood sugar

  • Avoiding environmental toxins such as air pollution

  • Reduce alcohol use

  • Don’t smoke

  • Get outside more

  • Maintain frequent and meaningful social interactions

  • Commit to life-long learning (this keeps the brain active)

Bottom line: there are things you can do and things you can take to help reduce your risk of Dementia/Alheimer’s Disease

Products mentioned in this post have not been evaluated by the FDA and in this regard are not meant to prevent, diagnose, cure, or treat any disease. The above statements are not meant to replace the opinion of your personal medical doctor and do not constitute medical advice.