Effectiveness of a Vitamin Formula for Later-Stage Alzheimer’s

People who are in the final stages of Alzheimer’s disease become incapable of carrying out even routine, daily activities and can become a serious hardship on their daily caregivers. Researchers are on a constant search for substances that can halt the progression of this disease. Some in vitro studies have shown that vitamins such as folic acid, tocopherol and vitamin B12 have some beneficial effects, such as reducing oxidant injury and preventing aggregation of amyloid protein, which is the major cause of Alzheimer’s. The present study was carried out to examine the role of a multivitamin formulation in preventing the progression of late stages of Alzheimer’s. The results showed that nutriceutical formulation delayed the decline in Dementia Rating Scale.

Alzheimer’s disease is a disorder in which there is progressive loss of memory and decline in cognition. In the late stages of this disease, patients become incapable of doing even basic,  daily activities. This increases the costs involved in providing health care for them.  In a previous study, the researchers of the present study had shown that nutriceutical formulation was useful in retarding the progression of early stage of Alzheimer’s. In the present experiment, they wanted to test the efficacy of the same nutriceutical formulation, containing vitamin B12, folic acid, vitamin E, acetyl-L-carnitine, N-acetyl cysteine, and S-adenosyl methionine, in preventing the progression of the late stage of Alzheimer’s.

* Nutriceutical formulation was prepared as per the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved methods of United States Pharmacopeia grade, by Nutricap Labs.
* This study involved 12 patients of Alzheimer’s, who were in a moderate to late stage of the disease. Half of the participants received nutriceutical formulation and the rest of the participants received a placebo.
* The neuropsychological capacity was assessed in both the groups, at baseline and at three-month intervals for a period of nine months using the Dementia Rating Scale and the Clox Driving Test.
* At the same time, the patient’s caregivers completed a 12-item neuropsychiatric inventory to measure the degree of abnormal behavior in both the groups.

* The results showed that by six months, all participants in the placebo group withdrew from the study due to a progressive decline in cognition. At nine months, four participants in the test group were only able to consume the nutriceutical formulation in a crushed form. The nutriceutical formulation, if given in a crushed form, is of no use. Hence, the study was stopped at nine months.
* At three months, neuropsychological capacity was better preserved in the nutriceutical formulation group than in the placebo group.
* Institutional caregivers reported that there was about 30 percent improvement in the neuropsychiatric inventory scores in the test group at three months, which remained elevated even at the interval of nine months.

Shortcomings/Next steps
The present study was carried out on a small group of 12 patients. Out of 12 patients, eight patients dropped out of the study by nine months. Further larger clinical trials should to be conducted to validate the efficacy of nutriceutical formulation in halting the progression of Alzheimer’s. Future studies must also take into consideration the dietary deficiency of various nutrients in patients, as this affects the overall results of the study.

The researchers of the present study had shown in their earlier study that nutriceutical formulation is useful in retarding progression of early stages of Alzheimer’s. In this study, they showed that the nutriceutical formulation is useful in slowing progression even in the late stages of the disease. The drugs, which are presently used for treating Alzheimer’s, are costly and they only reduce the symptoms of patients. These drugs cannot halt the progression of the disease. They are used only when there is considerable decline in cognitive capacity in the patient. The nutriceutical formulation, being harmless and cheap, can be safely used as an adjuvant along with the pharmaceutical agents that are being currently used to treat the patients.

For More Information:
Efficacy of a Vitamin/Nutriceutical Formulation for Moderate-stage to Later-stage Alzheimer’s Disease: A Placebo-controlled Pilot Study
Publication Journal: American Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementias, December 2008
By Ruth Remington, PhD; Amy Chan, PhD; University of Massachusetts, Lowell

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