Micronutrients Help Protect Against Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, Lou Gehrig’s Disease

Forgetfulness and shaky hands were once considered typical signs of aging. But as degenerative brain diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's skyrocket worldwide, striking people as young as 40, experts warn these lapses may signal something far more sinister—a creeping nutritional deficiency that could steal your memories and mobility.

Not getting enough of certain essential vitamins and minerals could significantly raise your risk for these neurological conditions, according to recent research.

With over 2 billion people worldwide already nutrient-deficient and inadequate nutrient intakes being "pervasive" in the U.S. population, according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), understanding which nutrients matter most for protecting the brain is more vital than ever.

Micronutrient Deficiencies and Brain Disease

Micronutrients are critical components of neurotransmitters, which enable the brain to produce and transmit signals.
Consuming adequate micronutrients may have therapeutic value for prevention and could potentially help those already experiencing neurological diseases, according to research published in Nutrients.
"The deficiency in individual micronutrients contributes to pathological changes in the development of the nervous system and can lead to the development of 'nutritional' neuropathies (nerve damage)," the study authors wrote.

Micronutrients as a Path to Alzheimer's Prevention

The researchers identified several micronutrients that may help prevent Alzheimer's disease:
  • The mineral manganese, essential for proper utilization of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which transmits signals from the brain to cells throughout the body.
  • The minerals seleniumcopper, and zinc, which help reduce elevated homocysteine levels associated with cognitive impairment. High levels of this amino acid have been linked to vascular damage, reduced blood flow to the brain, and heightened susceptibility to neurodegenerative disorders.
  • Vitamins A, B, C, D, and E, which prevent high homocysteine levels, according to the study.

The Role of Micronutrients in Parkinson's Management

Micronutrient deficiency is associated with increased Parkinson's disease risk, according to the research.

For example, low vitamin B6 levels have been linked to a high risk for the disease. Additionally, Parkinson's patients with impaired sense of smell had low dietary vitamin B1 and folate intake for about two years before symptom onset.

Vitamins D and especially E were also found to play a key role in Parkinson's prevention. Vitamin D is important because deficiency is tied to the death of dopamine-producing neurons. Studies show that higher vitamin E levels are associated with decreased Parkinson's occurrence, according to the Nutrients study.

Preventing ALS and MS Through Proper Nutrition

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also called Lou Gehrig's disease, affects the spine and brain, causing a progressive loss of muscle control. There is currently no cure for this ultimately fatal condition.

According to the study findings, vitamins D and E benefit patients with the condition, and vitamin D deficiency is a predictive factor for ALS development.

Multiple sclerosis (MS), another potentially disabling central nervous system disease, is also associated with vitamin D deficiency, researchers noted. Reports indicate the incidence of MS depends on sun exposure, and adequate vitamin D levels are linked to reduced risk. This may be due to vitamin D's effect on immune response since MS involves an autoimmune attack on the nervous system.

How to Ensure You Get Enough Micronutrients

Food sources of essential micronutrients include those mentioned in the table below:
 Sources of essential nutrients. (The Epoch Times)
Sources of essential nutrients. (The Epoch Times)
Micronutrients like vitamins and minerals are essential in small amounts for optimal health, Alisa Trairatana, a registered dietitian nutritionist at Northwell Staten Island University Hospital in New York, told The Epoch Times. Deficiencies in these nutrients can lead to many serious health issues, she added. 

"Try to consume plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, cereals, and include more nutrient-dense foods [like] salmon, fruits, vegetables, eggs, beans, meat, [and] whole grains," she said.

She recommends filling your plate with healthy fats, protein, and fiber. "I always love to add color to my plate as we eat with our eyes, too," she added. "Think: The more color on your plate, the more variety of nutrients."

Taking supplements is another way to increase micronutrient levels, but it may not be needed if you eat the right foods.

While supplements can help increase micronutrient levels, Ms. Trairatana says a balanced diet should provide sufficient vitamins and minerals without extra supplements. Those concerned about deficiencies can get tested.

Reposted from: https://www.theepochtimes.com/health/micronutrients-help-protect-against-alzheimers-parkinsons-lou-gehrigs-disease-5510918

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