New research suggests that an essential nutrient supplement could help combat and potentially prevent Alzheimer’s in future generations.
The research published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry from the US, coincides with new revelations about EastEnders star Dame Barbara Windsor’s battle with Alzheimer’s.
The supplement, Choline, is found in most foods like eggs, mushrooms, green vegetables, meat, poultry and fish.
It is essential to brain development in the foetus. Most pregnant women are encouraged to take 550mg of the supplement per day to promote healthy brain function after birth. It is also known that Choline is plays an important role in nervous system development.
According to studies from Alzheimer’s Research UK, coastal areas in the south of England have the highest number of people living with dementia with Christchurch, in Dorset, at the top of the list. 28 out of 1000 people in Christchurch are diagnosed with dementia, 2.8% of its overall population doubling the countries average, 1.3%.
Public understanding of the condition is still low and despite recent increases in funding, research into the condition falls behind other serious conditions.
The study monitored pregnant mice which were fed diets abundant in Choline. Compared to the offspring of mice not given the supplement, they performed significantly better in tests designed to measure memory loss. After the batch of Choline offspring had reproduced, their offspring displayed the same kind of enhanced memory despite having no contact with supplemental choline.
While the research is still in its early stages, the team claims it raises hopes of a safe and simple treatment that could help protect future generations against Alzheimer’s.
Lead scientist Dr Ramon Velazquez, from Arizona State University, says: “Choline deficits are associated with failure in developing foetuses to fully meet expected milestones like walking and babbling.”
Exposure to choline supplementation was associated with reduced levels of homocysteine, a protein building block known to double the risk of Alzheimer’s disease in humans.
Genes involved in the activation of microglia – cells responsible for clearing away unwanted debris in the brain – also appeared to be affected by the nutrient.