Nutrition has a great influence in the mental capacities of an individual. Especially in aging, components of the daily diet may prevent or delay mental decline. Vitamin D deficiencies and complementary diets with minerals have been associated with development or prevention of senile dementias. Deficiencies in many of the B vitamins results in negative cognitive effects and a number of studies have linked lower blood levels of B vitamins with cognitive impairment. Because age-related cognitive decline has been linked to free radical-induced oxidative damage in the brain, antioxidant supplements might help protect against cognitive aging. Prospective cohort studies have reported that vitamin C intake from supplements or vitamin E intake from food and supplements was associated with some protection against cognitive decline. However, randomized controlled trials are needed to determine whether antioxidant supplements slow or prevent age-related cognitive decline.
At present, several randomized controlled trials have been conducted either in the elderly or in individuals with pathological conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, making it difficult to understand the effects of diet on cognition. Therefore, it is important to focus more in preclinical studies that evaluate the effects of vitamins and minerals in the prevention of damage caused by this neurodegenerative disease.
In one hand, medications for neurodegenerative conditions are extremely costly and so is the treatment and care of patients in public and private institutions. On the other hand, the prognosis is low and the cognitive and physical deterioration cannot be avoided. Therefore, it is important to study and to expand the field of research in the use of micronutrients as supplements to diet.
This issue will cover a broad range of topics about nutrition and Alzheimer´s Disease, from pre-clinical until clinical studies. The gathering of ideas and discussion may result in development of a program to implement or adjust diet in the general population in order to improve the quality of life of the affected individuals, to prevent the disease in the general population and all together, to offer an important socio-economical benefit.
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