It’s Brain Health Awareness Month! Check out Staying Sharp and its new features designed to support brain health.

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Re: Vitamins for brain health? Experts answer your questions.

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Message 21 of 26

I just came across this forum and I just want to say that the body has to be looked at as one unit so I really think that concentrating on mind-body as one brings a balanced lifestyle. I had the opportunity of coming across an article in Wired that discussed brain regeneration of brain cells after different forms of severe trauma. Neuroscientist Michael Merzenich of BrainHQ along with his colleagues have done outstanding work proving that exercising the mind in addition to taking supplements ( my opinion) can work wonders. 

Have a great day!

Andrea Hoke 

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Re: Vitamins for brain health? Experts answer your questions.

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Message 22 of 26

Hi @DanielC622952 

  1.  You highlight an important part of the problem.  There is an issue that we need more research into the effectiveness of supplements.  But that is not the only reason.  We also do not have universally recognized recommended levels established for human consumption for all essential fatty acids (EFAs).  We note the recommended amount of ALAs set forth from the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.  The existing studies of Omega-3 supplements did NOT show they reduced the risk of Alzheimer’s Disease, and the other studies relating to supplements' impact on mild cognitive impairment were too few and too small to be confident in the results.  That is why the GCBH calls for more research.  But as you point out, where there are not financial incentives for manufacturers to engage in large rigorous studies, we are far less likely to have them be accomplished.  This is especially true when there is no regulatory requirement that pre-market testing happen.  But that doesn’t seem to have stopped academic centers from doing the evaluation of the effectiveness of food on brain health.   
  2. It’s not impossible to consume a healthy amount of fish that has shown positive impact for people’s brain health.  As mentioned above, not everyone agrees that you need super high doses of EFAs that some supplements offer.  The GCBH simply says we need to encourage people to eat greater amounts of fish and seafood.  The MIND diet advocates for fish at least once a week.  National recommendations from Canada say to eat at least two servings of fish each week, Sweden says two to three times a week, Greece says eat five or six servings of fish each week and China calls for appropriate amounts.  Our GCBH experts have also pointed out that you can get the same nutritional value from fresh, frozen or canned foods.  So for more affordable options, look for frozen or canned fish, and ones without lots of added breading, salt, sugar and fat. 
  3. Here's what the GCBH has said about fish, along with some links for more info: 

    Fish is a good source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids, and it constitutes an important part of the Mediterranean, Nordic, DASH, Okinawan and MIND diets as described earlier. Those who typically eat fish or other seafood every week report better brain health compared to those who never ate fish or seafood, according to the 2017 AARP Brain Health and Nutrition survey. In fact, 67% of those who eat fish or seafood reported their brain health as “excellent” or “very good.” See appendix 9, figure 3. …. It should also be noted that omega-3 fatty acids are found in sources other than fish. Plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids include flaxseed, oils (olive, canola, flaxseed, soybean), nuts and other seeds (walnuts, butternut squash and sunflower). Replacements for vegans/ vegetarians exist that are not supplements, but the evidence is not as robust for plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids.”

     

    https://www.aarp.org/health/brain-health/info-2018/brain-health-nutrition-study-fd.html

     

    https://www.aarp.org/health/brain-health/global-council-on-brain-health/nutrition/

     

     
Sarah Lenz Lock, AARP Expert Brain Health
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Re: Vitamins for brain health? Experts answer your questions.

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Message 23 of 26

Two questions: 

1) This report mentions the potential efficacy of B12 and EFAs. The mechanisms are not well understood, correct? Is the issue that supplements "don't work", or, that there isn't a market driver to fund the necessary, and expensive, research (i.e. no patenable molecules)? I present this question earnestly: 8 years ago lifestyle interventions were scoffed at in serious AD discussion. Might there be efficacy in "supplementation" but we lack the research, and research funding, to seriously study them? Said with serious concern about false marketing, and also in the spirit of identifying and inquiring into what we don't know.

 

2) DASH, MIND, MED, Finn diets show promising efficacy, but consuming that amount of fish is near impossible, and expensive. Does EFA / DHA supplementation directly replace and act in lieu of consuming high amounts of fish? Concerns or qualifications in this approach? Thank you!

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Re: Vitamins for brain health? Experts answer your questions.

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Looking forward to this starting tomorrow!

Sarah Lenz Lock, AARP Expert Brain Health
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Re: Vitamins for brain health? Experts answer your questions.

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Howard Fillit, MD, is a geriatrician, neuroscientist, and innovative philanthropy executive, who has led the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation (ADDF) since its founding in 1998. Dr. Fillit has held faculty positions at The Rockefeller University, the SUNY-Stony Brook School of Medicine and the Cornell University School of Medicine. In 1987, he joined the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, where he is a clinical professor of geriatric medicine and palliative care, medicine and neuroscience. Dr. Fillit also maintains a limited private practice in consultative geriatric medicine with a focus on Alzheimer's disease and related dementias.

 

Paul Coates, PhD, is previously Director of the Office of Dietary Supplements at the National Institutes of Health. Member of the Board of the American Society for Nutrition. Member of the Expert Panel advising the Global Council on Brain Health on matters related to dietary supplements.

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Vitamins for brain health? Experts answer your questions.

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Are you taking vitamins because you think they will help your memory or keep you sharp? Do you know the facts from the myths about supplements? Get answers to your questions from our expert panelists! To participate, simply ask a question by reply post! (Ends June 26.)

 

This month, AARP’s Global Council on Brain Health (GCBH) released its new report, The Real Deal on Brain Health Supplements (download available).  Now is the time to join our online discussion with our brain health experts who can set the record straight and provide you with tips and recommendations. Our expert panel includes:

 

  • Sarah Lock, Senior Vice President, Policy and Brain Health, AARP, Executive Director, Global Council on Brain Health @SarahLenzLock 
  • Paul Coates, Ph.D., former director of the Office of Dietary Supplements, NIH @PaulCoates 
  • Howard Fillit, M.D., Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation @HowardFillit 

 

Both Dr. Coates and Dr. Fillit served as contributors to the report. We’ll cover topics such as:

 

  • Americans take a lot of supplements for their brain health and spend billions each year on them.  Is it worth it?
  • How do you know if supplements are safe?
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