Friday, December 28, 2007

Diets of Alzheimer's patients lack many nutrients

People with Alzheimer's disease eat less nutritiously than their peers without dementia, even in the early stages of the disease, new research from Canada shows.

This is particularly concerning given that adequate intakes of certain nutrients, such as omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin K, and other antioxidants, could possibly help to preserve mental function, Dr. Bryna Shatenstein of the University of Montreal and her colleagues say.

Poor diet and malnutrition is a problem among older people, Shatenstein and her team write in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association. Alzheimer's patients, in particular, are known to eat less, demonstrate disturbances in eating behavior, and lose weight.

To fill in the gaps in knowledge about nutrition among Alzheimer's patients, the researchers compared the diets of 36 individuals in the early stages of the disease with 58 men and women (at least 65 years old) who were free of dementia and living independently. The researchers followed the study participants for 12 to 18 months.

The dementia-free individuals were getting more calories, fiber, protein, calcium, iron, zinc, vitamins A and K, and omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids than the Alzheimer's patients, the researchers found. The difference remained when they limited their analysis to people 70 and older.

Nutrient intake remained fairly constant over time in the individuals with dementia, suggesting that "deterioration in food consumption occurs early in the disease, and once in place, remains a characteristic feature," Shatenstein and her colleagues write.

"Because nutrition problems may be prevented or reversed, patients in the early stage of Alzheimer dementia could benefit from dietary assessment and targeted interventions designed to stabilize and/or improve their nutritional status," they conclude.

SOURCE: Journal of the American Dietetic Association, December 2007.



Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.

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