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Natural Approaches May Help Clear Brain Plaques

Posted Feb 25 2013 10:11pm

Alzheimer's brain tissue exhibits many fewer nerve cells and synapses than a healthy brain, due to the presence of plaques – abnormal clusters of protein fragments, build up between nerve cells; and tangles – twisted strands of proteins that comprise dead and dying nerve cells. In a small pilot study, Milan Fiala, from the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA; California, USA), and colleagues drew blood samples from both Alzheimer's patients and healthy controls, then isolated macrophages – blood components that are responsible for disposing of amyloid-beta and other waste products in the brain and body. The team incubated the immune cells overnight with amyloid-beta. They added either an active form of vitamin D3 called 1alpha,25–dihydroxyvitamin D3 or an active form of the omega-3 fatty acid DHA called resolvin D1 to some of the cells to gauge the effect they had on inflammation and amyloid-beta absorption.  The researchers observed that  both 1alpha, 25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 and resolvin D1 improved the ability of the Alzheimer's disease patients' macrophages to gobble-up amyloid-beta, and they inhibited the cell death that is induced by amyloid-beta. Researchers observed that each nutrition molecule utilized different receptors and common signaling pathways to do this. The lead researcher is hopeful that: "Our new study sheds further light on a possible role for nutritional substances such as vitamin D3 and omega-3 in boosting immunity to help fight Alzheimer's."

Mizwicki MT, Menegaz D, Zhang J, Barrientos-Durán A, Tse S, Cashman JR, Griffin PR, Fiala M.  “Genomic and nongenomic signaling induced by 1α,25(OH)2-vitamin D3 promotes the recovery of amyloid-[beta] phagocytosis by Alzheimer's disease macrophages.”  J Alzheimers Dis. 2012;29(1):51-62.

  
Vitamin D3 and omega-3 fatty acids may enhance the immune system's ability to clear the brain of the amyloid plaques characteristic of Alzheimer’s Disease.
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Tip #127 - Delay Death with Vitamin D
The therapeutic role of vitamin D, "the sunshine vitamin," for bone health, has become well established. A number of recent studies now link vitamin D deficiency to adverse health consequences such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and some infectious diseases.

Johns Hopkins University (Maryland, USA) researchers reported that low blood levels of Vitamin D are associated with a 26% increased risk of death from any cause. The team analyzed data collected on 13,331 adults during a 6-year period after which the subjects were followed for 9 years. People with Vitamin D levels of less than 17.8 ng/mL had a 26% increased rate of death from any cause, compared to people with the highest Vitamin D levels (more than 32.1 ng/mL).

Researchers from Harvard School of Public Health (Massachusetts, USA) reported that those individuals taking vitamin D supplements are at a 7% lower risk of death, as compared to those who did not supplement.

As well, Vitamin D inhibits the body’s inflammatory response and thus reduces the turnover of leukocytes (a type of white blood cell). The length of the leukocyte telomere (the endcap of the chromosome) is a predictor of aging-related disease, whereby it shortens as a result of increased inflammation. A team from King's College, London School of Medicine (United Kingdom) found that people with longer telomeres have higher levels of Vitamin D stored in their bodies. The team reports that: “The difference … was … equivalent to five years of telomeric aging,” suggesting that people who have higher levels of vitamin D may age more slowly than people with lower levels.
 
 
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