Health updates: Alzheimer’s and gum disease

February 24, 2012

Alzheimer's and Dementia, Dental, Health

The following is information regarding new research on avoiding Alzheimer’s and how omega-3s can help fight gum disease.

Best-kept secret for avoiding Alzheimer’s

People who consume foods rich in vitamin B12 could be at lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers analyzed blood samples from more than 270 individuals who showed no evidence of dementia. They tested for levels of vitamin B12 and for levels of homocysteine, an amino acid that has been linked to an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease, and then tracked the study participants for seven years. Each unit increase in vitamin B12 reduced the risk of developing Alzheimer’s by 2 percent.

According to CNN: “The relationship between vitamin B12 and Alzheimer’s risk is ‘complex’ … B12 levels, particularly holotranscobalamin levels, likely play a contributory role.”

You may not realize it, but we are clearly in the middle of an Alzheimer’s epidemic. According to the Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report for 2009, 5.3 million people in the U.S. have the disease, and it has become the sixth-leading cause of death in this country. In the next 20 years, it is projected that Alzheimer’s will affect one in four Americans. If that turns out to be true, it would be more prevalent than obesity and diabetes are today.

Omega-3s fight gum disease

Even moderate amounts of omega-3 fats may help ward off gum disease, according to new research. Researchers divided nearly 9,200 adults into three groups, based on their omega-3 consumption. Dental exams showed that those in the middle and upper third for consumption of the omega-3 DHA and EPA were 23 percent to 30 percent less likely to have gum disease.

Business Week reports: “About 54 percent of men and 46 percent of women over age 30 in the United States experience gingival bleeding, the earliest sign of periodontal disease … In the general population, about 11 percent of adults aged 50 to 64 have moderate or severe periodontitis, rising to 20 percent of those over age 75.”


Sources: CNN October 18, 2010, Neurology October 19, 2010;75(16):1402-3, Business Week October 26, 2010, Journal of the American Dietetic Association November 2010; 110(11):1669-75 and

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 30, Number 1, Feb/Mar 2011.

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