August 6, 2010

Two-nutrient combination stops Alzheimer's plaque

If you've read Second Opinion for very long, you know there are a few nutrients that are my favorites. I write about them regularly. And I tell all of my patients to take them. Two of my favorites are curcumin (the curry spice) and vitamin D3. These two nutrients have multiple health benefits all by themselves. But now there's evidence that taking both of them together can stop Alzheimer's.

The new research comes out of UCLA and UC Riverside. Their researchers say the two-nutrient combination may help immune cells clear out beta amyloid. Beta amyloid is the gummy stuff that accumulates in the brains of Alzheimer's patients. It forms neurotoxic plaques in your brain, which hinder brain function.

In this study, researchers took blood samples from nine Alzheimer's patients. They also took samples from one patient with mild dementia and three healthy controls. They isolated monocyte cells. These cells can transform into macrophage cells. The latter are the garbage cleaners of your body. Macrophages travel through your body, including your brain, to eat up bad stuff.

The researchers then incubated the transformed macrophages with beta amyloid, vitamin D3, and natural or synthetic curcumin. They included the synthetic curcumin due to concerns about the absorption and intestinal stability of natural curcumin. (At least that's what they said. I suspect it has more to do with their inability to patent natural curcumin.)

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Here's what they found: the curcuminoids enhanced the ability of the macrophages to bind to the beta amyloid. Meanwhile, vitamin D strongly enhanced the uptake and absorption of the beta amyloid into the macrophages.

These researchers had previously identified genes that help in the uptake and break down of beta amyloid. Since vitamin D operates on a genetic level (it is actually a hormone), it's possible that it enhances genetic clearance of beta amyloid.

The researchers were not ready to endorse either nutrient yet. The drug companies wouldn't like that. Of course, once they come up with a patented synthetic derivative of curcumin, they'll endorse it almost immediately. We already know that natural curcumin is a globally respected nutrient. Semi-synthetic derivatives of curcumin could be more effective for specific conditions. But semi-synthetics also raise the risk of toxicity.

If you're struggling with any type of memory loss, dementia, or Alzheimer's, take your vitamin D3 along with curcumin. It may help clear the junk out of your brain and restore your brain function.

Also, make sure you keep your vitamin D level in the upper third of the reference range. I see no danger in supplementing daily with at least 5,000 IU. In the winter, I take 10,000 IU daily or more. You can order vitamin D3 by following this link. Regarding curcumin, I like Curamed, one tablet, three times daily. It's available by calling 877-341-2703. Please let me know if you try this combination. I'd love to know if it helps you or a loved one.

Ref: J. Alz Disease, vol. 17, no. 3, 2009.

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