Spinach Could Help Beat Dementia

Researchers have discovered a link between low vitamin C, beta-carotene levels and dementia, meaning antioxidant rich fruit and veg – such as spinach, carrots and apricots – could help fight the disease’s devastating symptoms.

German scientists looked at the differences between 74 people with mild Alzheimer’s disease and 158 healthy subjects.

The participants, between 65 and 90 years of age, underwent neuropsychological testing, answered questions about their lifestyle and had their blood examined and their body mass index calculated.

The team including epidemiologist Professor Gabriele Nagel and neurologist Professor Christine von Arnim found the serum-concentration of the antioxidants vitamin C and beta-carotene were significantly lower in patients with mild dementia than in control group.

There was no such difference between the groups in levels of other antioxidants including vitamin E, lycopene, coenzyme Q10.

Dr Nagel said although more studies were needed to confirm the results, the findings suggested fruits and vegetables could play a role in fighting the disease.

“Longitudinal studies with more participants are necessary to confirm the result that vitamin C and beta-carotene might prevent the onset and development of Alzheimer’s disease”, said Dr Nagel, of the University of Ulm.

“Vitamin C can for example be found in citrus fruits; beta-carotene in carrots, spinach or apricots.”

Alzheimer’s disease symptoms including forgetfulness, lack of orientation and cognitive decline are caused by alterations in the brain including amyloid-beta-plaques, degeneration of fibrillae and a loss of synapses.

However, oxidative stress, which constrains the exploitation of oxygen in the human body, is also suspected to promote the development of the disease.

This led scientists to investigate whether antioxidants might protect against neurodegeneration.

The study – supported by the German Ministry of Science, Research and the Arts of Baden-Württemberg and the European Union – was published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.