The Whitworths of Arizona, bringing science to you in everyday language.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

LBD & Nutrition-4: Water-Soluble Vitamins

This week the blog is about something that at first blush doesn't have much to do with dementia of any kind. However, because LBD increases stress and impairs the immune system, these vitamins are useful and should be considered as a daily supplement.  Unlike the fat-soluble supplements discussed last week, these water-soluble vitamins are excreted in the urine. Excess water-soluble vitamins are not stored in the liver nor do they  build up to toxic levels when taken in amounts of more than the body can metabolize at the time. While food is still the best source of these nutrients, supplements can usually be taken safely in normal doses.

Vitamin B Complex (Folic acid, B6 and B12): These vitamins can be found in fish, poultry, meat and dairy sources.

  • Belief: These vitamins help to prevent or slow dementia.
  • Fact: True, but impractical. These water-soluble vitamins help in the formation of red blood cells and in the maintenance of the central nervous system, and appear to lower the levels of an amino acid associated with dementia. Studies have shown that large doses of these three vitamins together can decrease confusion, reduce depression and slow MCI.   Reference 
  • Concern: The large dosage required makes obtaining an adequate amount from food impractical. Therefore supplements must be used. In addition, injections provide better results than oral supplements, making this a difficult and possibly impractical effort for the average person.
  • Belief: These vitamins help to reduce stress, which in turn reduces dementia symptoms.
  • Fact: True. A daily oral dose of these water-soluble vitamins has been shown to significantly decrease workplace stress, confusion and depression.  It is reasonable to believe that it would also reduce stress in other areas of one’s life as well. Reference.  
  • Belief: Taking Vitamin B12 will prevent dementia.
  • Fact: False. It has been known for some time that a deficiency in Vitamin B12 decreases the brains ability to metabolize neurotransmitters and can cause dementia. However, taking Vitamin B12 alone as a preventive measure does not help.   Reference.

Vitamin C: This water soluble vitamin is found in most fruits, green leafy vegetables, broccoli, chestnuts, soy beans and low fat yogurt.

  • Belief: Taking Vitamin C lowers your risk of dementia.
  • Fact: Not yet proven. This vitamin was associated with a lower risk of dementia in one small study. That study needs to be replicated, preferably with a larger number of subjects before it can be accepted as fact. Reference.
  • Belief: Vitamin C is helpful in reducing the infections that occur so often with LBD and which in turn, increase LBD symptoms.
  • Fact: True. It has long been known that Vitamin C is associated with the maintenance of a healthy immune system, and therefore is helpful in reducing infection.

While taking supplements of these vitamins is comparatively safe, anyone dealing with LBD should always remember that this disorder makes the whole digestion system sluggish and that drug sensitivities can occur at any time. Larger than normal doses are discouraged without a Lewy-savvy physician's supervision.

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