Volume 4, Issue 39
September 29, 2011

Memory super-nutrient stops
damage that leads to dementia

Are you concerned about developing dementia?  Is your spouse or are your friends starting to notice that you are repeating yourself? Does dementia run in your family?  If so, then a new super-nutrient may stop and even reverse the devastating slide into never-ending forgetfulness.

A new double-blind, placebo-controlled study shows that this new nutrient really packs a punch against memory loss. In the study, the researchers looked at the levels of phospholipid hydroperoxides (PH) in the red blood cell membranes of 30 middle aged and senior men and women.

Why did they look at these?

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Because your cell membranes produce PH when free radicals damage them. This is true not only of red blood cell membranes, but also of brain cell membranes. And the formation of PH in brain cells may be a critical first step in the cause of dementia. Previous studies have shown that brain cell function is particularly sensitive to membrane function.

Other studies have shown that the brain cells of patients with dementia have an extraordinarily high level of PH.

What’s more, researchers also have shown that patients with dementia have high levels of PH in their red blood cells. So the amount of PH occurring in red blood cells is a good indicator of the levels in brain cells, and hence the risk for developing dementia.

So in this study, the researchers looked at the effect of a particular nutrient on the formation of PH in red blood cell membranes. This nutrient is astaxanthin.

Astaxanthin is an antioxidant that decreases the ability of free radicals to produce PH. And it’s extremely effective.

So the researchers in the study wanted to see if it could prevent dementia. In the study, they gave half of the group either 6 mg or 12 mg of astaxanthin. They gave the other half a placebo. The researchers looked at the levels of astaxanthin and PH in their red blood cell membranes before and after three months of taking the supplements. What they discovered may be very important for the treatment and prevention of dementia.

Sure enough the red blood cells of those taking the supplement were much higher in astaxanthin.  But more importantly, the astaxanthin lowered the levels of PH. Here’s why this study is so important.

Because of its low molecular weight and configuration, astaxanthin crosses the blood brain barrier very efficiently. So it should have the same effect on the membranes of brain cells that it does on red blood cells.

And that means that it may prevent and even reverse dementia.

You can find astaxanthin in very high levels in a particular algae called haematococcus pluvialis.  Since most of us don’t eat a lot of algae, it’s important to find other sources. You also can find it in krill oil in much smaller amounts, and in salmon and trout in very small amounts. These amounts are so small, it’s vital to take a supplement of astaxanthin as well.

Astaxanthin's oral absorption and bioavailability increases when you eat it along with fats. And the plasma half-life is approximately 21 hours. That means that the best way to take it is once a day with a meal containing fat. Astaxanthin is available online and in most health food stores in 4 mg and 10 mg tablets. For prevention, the 4 mg size is probably enough. But if you have dementia, take one 10 mg tablet daily.

Finding your Real Cures,

Frank Shallenberger, MD


Nakagawa K, Kiko T, et al Antioxidant effect of astaxanthin on phospholipid peroxidation in human erythrocytes. Br J Nutr. 2011 Jun;105(11):1563-71.

Epub 2011 Jan 31.

Copyright 2011 Soundview Publishing, LLC.

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