Foods Rich in Antioxidants

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Broccoli Blueberries, strawberries

Corn Citrus fruits (oranges, grapefruit)

Beets Plums

Carrots Red grapes

Spinach Kiwi

Red peppers Peaches

Germs, seeds Nuts

Vitamin A Is Good for Your Brain

Vitamin A is an antioxidant that neutralizes "bad" oxygen and shields the membranes of brain cells from injury. Research suggests that it may diminish the risk of heart attack and stroke (not yet fully proven) and thereby decrease the likelihood of memory loss. The nutritional supplement dose of vitamin A is 10,000 to 50,000 units daily, or 10,000 to 25,000 units daily when taken together with 15 mg of beta-carotene. Carrots are an excellent source of beta-carotene, which is closely related to vitamin A. While vitamin A doses up to 100,000 units daily are generally safe, megadoses of vitamin A can lead to liver toxicity. Vitamin A has antioxidant potency that is comparable to vitamin E, and hopefully it will be studied further in people with memory loss. Until then, vitamin A will remain a second-level intervention in the Memory Program.

Vitamin C: Was Linus Pauling Right after All?

Linus Pauling, who won two Nobel Prizes, began to be considered a quack after he advocated taking huge doses of vitamin C to fight the common cold and to tackle a host of other diseases. More recently, his original arguments have been vindicated as the free radical toxicity theory has taken hold. Vitamin C or ascorbic acid is an antioxidant and potent free radical scavenger, and may be able to block elements of the aging process, including memory loss. Oranges, grapefruit, berries of all types, grapes, and other citrus fruits contain lots of vitamin C, so deficiency of this vitamin is extremely rare. Many people supplement their diet with 1 to 5 grams of vitamin C daily, but its effect in preventing memory loss remains to be tested in a long-term clinical trial. Nevertheless, vitamin C's broad antiaging effects make it a useful component of the Memory Program. Its main side effect is increased stomach acidity and irritation.

Vitamin E: The Best-Studied Antioxidant

Among the antioxidants, vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) has received the most attention. A study of Alzheimer's patients showed that 2,000 units, of vitamin E taken daily was associated with a six- to nine-month delay in reaching functional end points such as taking care of personal hygiene or being placed in a nursing home. Vitamin E is now being tested in people with mild cognitive impairment, and it may have a positive effect on this group of people as well. My expectation is that the antioxidant properties of vitamin E will be even more helpful to those who have a good memory but wish to prevent future age-related memory loss. A daily dose of vitamin E is a central component of the Memory Program.

Vitamin E is known to boost T cell function, which is important for the proper functioning of the immune system, which defends the body against bacteria, viruses, and toxins. Vitamin E may also indirectly protect against heart disease and cancer. It is present in soy-bean oil, margarine, nuts, wheat germ, and seeds, but the amounts contained in these natural foods are insufficient to produce a strong antiaging or promemory effect. You need to take vitamin E capsules to get this added kick. The Alzheimer's study utilized 2,000 units of vitamin E daily, but this is a high dose that may increase the risk of bleeding, because vitamin E is an anticoagulant. Until systematic studies are conducted to compare different vitamin E doses in the prevention and treatment of memory loss, I suggest that you stick to a daily capsule of 800 units (400 units if you want to be more conservative). I myself follow this strategy.

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