The causes of dementia are still not fully understood but we do know that due to brain cell damage people with dementia can exhibit symptoms such as memory loss, confusion and behavioural issues. And research indicates that having a diet high in certain vitamins and minerals could help lower dementia risk or even slow down the disease if it has already developed.
Read our straightforward guide: Understanding Dementia for more information on the causes, symptoms and treatments of the various different types of dementia.
Here are 4 vitamins and minerals that we should all incorporate into our diet that may help prevent dementia:
1. Vitamin B12 and Folic Acid
People with dementia often have high levels of amino acid in the blood and lack vitamin B12 and folic acid. By incorporating foods rich in B12 and folic acid the levels of amino acid in the blood can be reduced.
For foods containing folic acid try eating plenty of dark green vegetables (such as kale, spinach or broccoli) and citrus fruits (or simply fresh orange juice) and also look out for breakfast cereals that are fortified with both folic acid and B12.
For a B12 boost incorporate into your diet liver, chicken and oily fish, such as salmon, sardines and fresh tuna. Remember tinned salmon and sardines are just as good as fresh so are a perfect kitchen cupboard staple.
2. Vitamin B1
Vitamin B1 is needed by certain neurons in the brain (cholinergic neurons) that are known to have deteriorated in people with Alzheimer’s and B1 has been shown in trials to slow the progression of the disease in some people.
Fortunately it is easy to obtain B1 from food. It can be found in beef, pork, liver, nuts, oats, oranges, eggs, seeds, and almost all vegetables, such as:
3. Vitamin E
Vitamin E may not be able to prevent dementia but it can prevent damage to our bodies cells and tissue, which are factors in age-related diseases such as dementia and also cancer, heart disease, liver disease and stroke. It also helps boost our immune system so there are good reasons for making sure we get enough vitamin E from our diet.
As with most vitamins and minerals the best way to get enough is through the food we eat. The following foods are a good source of vitamin E:
- Nuts (eg. almonds, peanuts, hazelnuts)
- Seeds (eg. sunflower seeds)
- Green leafy vegetables (eg. spinach and broccoli)
- Fortified breakfast cereals
- Fruit juices
Many elderly people do not have enough zinc in their diet but it can help improve memory so it’s worth eating more foods rich in zinc. These include beans, nuts, crab, lobster, whole grains, fortified breakfast cereals, and dairy products.