Vitamin C may help treat cognitive impairment in older people

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In a new study from Flinders University, researchers found cognitive impairment among older hospitalized people could be the result of low vitamin C levels.

The finding paves the way for potential treatment. The study is published in Antioxidants and was conducted by Associate Professor Yogesh Sharma et al.

Common in older hospitalized patients, cognitive impairment can result in a person having trouble remembering things, concentrating or making decisions.

Previous research has shown that vitamin C plays a significant role in the functioning of the brain, with studies finding that vitamin C deficiency may be associated with cognitive impairment, depression and confusion.

In the study, the team looked at 160 patients aged over 75. They assessed their cognitive function and vitamin C levels.

A total of 91 patients (56.9%) were found to have a cognitive impairment, while 42 (26.3%) were found to be vitamin C deficient with a level below 11 micromol/L, below which point scurvy could develop.

The findings showed that cognitive function scores were significantly lower among patients who were vitamin C deficient, with further analysis suggesting vitamin C deficiency was almost three times more likely to be associated with cognitive impairment after adjustment for other factors.

The study also found that the symptoms associated with scurvy were likely to be present among patients with or without vitamin C deficiency.

Many of these symptoms of vitamin C deficiency are common in older people, who may have bleeding, bruising and skin issues due to a number of other conditions.

The team says vitamin C deficiency is common among older hospitalized patients, medical professionals need to remain vigilant for this condition and confirm a patient’s vitamin C status in suspected cases.

Besides vitamin C, recent studies found vitamin D may help slow down cognitive decline effectively and some common exercises could protect against cognitive impairment effectively in older people.

In a study from the University of Sao Paulo, researchers found the blood thinner dabigatran yielded similar results to warfarin for the prevention of cognitive decline in older adults with atrial fibrillation after two years of treatment.

Atrial fibrillation is the most common cardiac arrhythmia in older adults, and it is associated with an increased risk of stroke, cognitive impairment and dementia.

Stroke can occur when a blood clot blocks blood flow to the brain, and oral anticoagulants, or medications that prevent the formation of blood clots such as dabigatran and warfarin, are typically prescribed to prevent stroke.

Dabigatran has been found to be comparable to warfarin for the prevention of stroke and also has a lower risk of major bleeding complications.

In the study, the team tested 200 adults over age 70 with confirmed atrial fibrillation, and about 62% of the study participants were male.

Participants were assigned to take dabigatran (110 or 150 mg twice daily) or warfarin (once daily, dose controlled based on how long it takes the blood to clot) for two years.

Patients also had a brain MRI at baseline and after two years to identify possible strokes.

Participants completed 90-minute cognitive and functional evaluations at the one-year and two-year follow-up visits.

Another MRI was performed at the end of the two-year study period to identify possible cerebrovascular events.

The researchers found that after two years:

no participant was diagnosed with dementia during the trial, and among the entire study population, there was less than a half-point difference between study participants taking warfarin and those taking dabigatran on scales measuring memory, executive functions, language and attention from baseline.

These findings highlight the importance of adequate anticoagulation treatment to decrease the cognitive decline in older atrial fibrillation patients.

In addition, the researchers concluded that among older patients with atrial fibrillation who were adequately treated with warfarin or dabigatran, there was no difference in cognitive outcomes after two years of treatment.

If you care about supplements, please read studies that vitamin D can be cheap treatments for COVID-19, and vitamin K may help cut heart disease risk by a third.

For more information about nutrition, please see recent studies about food that could lead to better cognition in older people, and results showing this common food oil in the U.S. can change genes in the brain.

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