Could sunshine help or prevent Alzheimers symptoms?
Researchers are exploring how Vitamin D3 may trigger the immune system to help clear the amyloid plaques in Alzheimer’s disease.
Vitamin D3 is produced in the skin after exposure to sunshine, and is found in milk and other foods fortified with Vitamin D.
An exciting article Okay, the findings are exciting – not necessarily the article. Unless you’re a researcher, then you might find the article exciting!
The article describes how researchers at UCLA discovered how Vitamin D may clear the amyloid plaques found in Alzheimer’s disease and Alzheimer’s symptoms.
Here’s an explanation of the findings…
Vitamin D Explored as Alzheimer’s Treatment
By Traci Pedersen Associate News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on March 9, 2012
Vitamin D3 may activate key genes and networks to help trigger the immune system to get rid of the amyloid beta protein, the core component of destructive plaques in the brain linked to Alzheimer’s disease, according to a new study.
Previous lab work has shown that particular immune cells in people with Alzheimer’s respond well to vitamin D3 and curcumin (found in turmeric spice) by stimulating the immune system to clear the brain of amyloid beta; however, researchers were unsure of exactly how this worked.
Vitamin D3 is the form that is produced by the skin with the help of sunlight and is also found in milk.
“This new study helped clarify the key mechanisms involved, which will help us better understand the usefulness of vitamin D3 and curcumin as possible therapies for Alzheimer’s disease,” said study author Milan Fiala, M.D., a researcher at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and the Veterans Affairs Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System.
For the study, blood samples were taken from both Alzheimer’s patients and healthy controls; researchers then isolated the macrophages (critical immune cells), which are responsible for clearing out amyloid beta and other waste materials throughout the brain and body.
The scientists incubated these immune cells overnight with amyloid beta. In addition, an active form of vitamin D3 (called 1a,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 — which is naturally produced in the body through enzymatic conversion in the liver and kidneys) was added to some of the cells to see if it had an effect on amyloid beta absorption.
Prior research by this team revealed that there are at least two types of patients and macrophages: Type I macrophages are improved with the addition of 1a,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 and curcuminoids (a synthetic form of curcumin), while Type II macrophages are improved with the addition of only 1a,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3.
In both Type I and Type II macrophages, 1a,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 was critical in opening a specific chloride channel called chloride channel 3 (CLC3), which is important in supporting the uptake of amyloid beta through the process known as phagocytosis. Curcuminoids activated this chloride channel only in Type I macrophages.
“Our findings demonstrate that active forms of vitamin D3 may be an important regulator of immune activities of macrophages in helping to clear amyloid plaques by directly regulating the expression of genes, as well as the structural physical workings of the cells,” said study author Mizwicki, who was an assistant research biochemist in the department of biochemistry at UC Riverside when the study was conducted.
According to the researchers, the next step would include a clinical trial with vitamin D3 to determine its impact on Alzheimer’s patients. Previous studies by other teams have shown that a low serum level of 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 may be tied to cognitive decline.
It is too early to suggest a specific vitamin D3 dosage to help with Alzheimer’s disease and brain health, the researchers said. They add that current studies continue to reveal that Vitamin D3 may be helpful in reducing the incidence of several human diseases.
The study is published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.
Source: University of California
Original Article Source:
So if more study is needed, wondering why the interest?
Well, it’s exciting because it’s great to know the mechanism of how Vitamin D works in Alzheimer’s. Then, presumably treatments can be developed that may work with Vitamin D to prevent or treat Alzheimer’s.
And hey, sunshine is free! Vitamin D is often low cost or already in fortified foods.
An important quote from the article is
“This new study helped clarify the key mechanisms involved, which will help us better understand the usefulness of vitamin D3 and curcumin as possible therapies for Alzheimer’s disease,” said study author Dr. Milan Fiala, a researcher at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and the Veterans Affairs Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System.
Maybe there’s a reason sunshine often makes you feel better. Curcumin is found in the spice tumeric.
The complex pathways of the brain are just beginning to be understood. And the connection of vitamins, supplements, minerals, foods and yes sunshine is also complex. Even understanding it a little may help prevent or treat Alzheimer’s!
Regular outings can be helpful psychologically and physically. And now there’s another reason to get your daily dose of Vitamin D – maybe preventing Alzheiemer’s and other dementias.
Are you caring for someone with a dementia? Or at risk for a dementia?
Then you probably know activities can sometimes have unexpected results.
A sharp word from a tired waiter, receptionist or clerk can abruptly escalate into a scene. And you may find the only solution is to remove your loved one from the situation. Later finding yourself dreading going there again…
Looking for help to prevent uncomfortable scenes?
A companion card discretely explains your situation. And can get you the extra support and patience you and your companion may need.
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To your healthy and happy caregiving,
Ina Gilmore, M.D. (Retired)
“The Knitting Dr.”
Bestselling Author of “What Do I Say In a Sympathy Card?”
Creator of A HEART PLAN
Neuron and plaque image courtesy of the National Institute on Aging/National Institutes of Health