Common nutrient prevents Alzheimer’s

A nutrient found in many foods may naturally prevent Alzheimer’s disease, say researchers from the ASU-Banner Neurodegenerative Disease Research Centre (NDRC).

Choline is a nutrient naturally present in some foods and can also be easily administered as a dietary supplement.

Biodesign researchers found that a dietary regimen of choline has potential to prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

“The human body uses choline to produce acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter responsible for functioning memory, muscle control and mood,” says study author Ramon Velazquez from the NDRC.

Lifelong choline supplementation can reduce the activation of microglia – specialised cells that rid the brain of ‘deleterious debris’. Microglia naturally occur to keep the brain healthy, but if they are overactivated, brain inflammation and neuronal death – both common symptoms of Alzheimer’s – will occur. Excess microglia is also present in various neurodegenerative diseases caused by traumatic brain injuries, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease.

Choline protects the brain by blocking the production of amyloid-beta plaques often observed in Alzheimer’s disease. It also restricts activation of microglia which, when overactive, can cause brain inflammation and can eventually compromise cognitive function or eventually lead to neuronal death.

Choline is found in various foods, with high levels in chicken liver, eggs, grass-fed beef, wheat germ, milk and Brussels sprouts. Supplements containing choline are also widely available. Choline supplements are widely recommended for those on plant-based diets.

“Our choline supplemented diet regimen was only 4.5 times the recommended daily intake (RDI), which makes this a safe strategy,” says Dr Velazquez, who believes choline supplementation is a very safe alternative to pharmaceutical intervention.

“At 4.5 times the RDI, we are well under the tolerable upper limit, making this a safe preventive therapeutic strategy.”

Although the results promote further understanding of the disease, the study authors suggest that clinical trials will be necessary to confirm choline as a viable treatment in the future.

Do you eat foods containing choline?

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Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.
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