A study has found that taking supplements of beta carotene for at least 15 years appears to lessen the decline in thinking ability that comes with Alzheimer’s disease.
Antioxidants such as beta carotene have had a long-standing reputation for protecting against Alzheimer’s disease. This latest test, which started as the Physicians Health Study II, stretches back to 1982.
In 1982, 4,052 men were assigned to take daily doses of either 50 milligrams of beta carotene (the amount in about five large carrots) or a placebo every other day. An additional 1,904 men were randomly assigned to one of the two groups between 1998 and 2001. All the men filled out yearly questionnaires about their health as part of the trial, and all had telephone “assessments of their thinking ability” at least once between the years 1998 and 2002.
A noticable difference emerged between long-term and short-term participants. The men who had stayed in the trial for an average of 18 years scored significantly higher on most of the tests of cognitive ability. Their memory was equivalent to that of men at least 1 year younger.
The experts stress that what works for men almost certainly should work for women.
HOWEVER, for smokers, Beta Carotene is not entirely risk free. In studies of male smokers, taking beta carotene supplements increase the lung cancer mortality rate.
The findings are published in the Nov. 12 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine
Ever notice that every article you read about disease prevention recommends eating more fruits and vegetables and taking a great multi-vitamin? Head to toe, it’s the smartest thing we can do for ourselves. Don’t wait until New Year’s Eve to make an “I’m going to take better care of me!” resolution. Do it today, and by the time New Year’s Eve come around, it’ll already be a habit and you can make another resolution in its place!