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Low Vitamin C and Beta-Carotene Levels May be Linked to Alzheimer's Disease

A German study suggests that low blood levels of vitamin C and beta-carotene could be associated with the development of Alzheimer's disease.

Participants in the study that had been previously diagnosed with Alzheimer's were found to have much lower concentrations of vitamin C and beta-carotene than those not diagnosed with Alzheimer's. No significant differences in blood levels of other antioxidants were found.

Participants included 74 people with diagnoses of Alzheimer's who were compared to 158 individuals without any known cognitive issues. All of the participants were part of the Activity and Function in the Elderly in Ulm (IMCA ActiFE) study and were between 65 and 90 years old.

The researchers administered neuropsychological tests and questionnaires covering food and lifestyle questions. They also took blood samples and calculated the body mass index (BMI) of all of the participants.

They note that further research is needed to determine if increasing vitamin C and beta-carotene levels would prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s.

The study was conducted by researchers from the University of Ulm in Germany and was published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease on January 1, 2012.

Vitamin C is an essential nutrient that has been linked to numerous other health benefits including immune system function, heart health, brain health, eye health and improved mood. It can be found in high levels in citrus fruits and dark leafy greens such as cantaloupe, oranges, kiwis, papaya, broccoli and kale.

Beta-carotene is a type of antioxidant known as a flavonoid. Previous studies have found associations between beta-carotene intake and lower risk of cardiovascular disease, improved oral health, and a lower risk of lung cancer. It can be found in vegetables and fruits that are green, yellow or orange.

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