Epidemiologist Gabriele Nagel and the neurologist Christine von Arnim of the University of Ulm discovered the serum-concentration of the antioxidants vitamin C and beta-carotene were significantly lower in patients with mild dementia than in the control group.
The study involved 74 patients with Alzheimer's disease and 158 healthy controls. The researchers investigated the serum-levels of vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene as well as lycopene and coenzyme Q10 of study participants recruited from the study on the activity and function in the elderly in Ulm. The study participants were ages 65-90 from Ulm and the surrounding area who underwent neuropsychological testing and answered questions regarding their lifestyle.
The concentration of vitamin C and beta-carotene in the serum of those with Alzheimer's disease-patients were significantly lower than in the blood of control subjects, but there was no such difference between the groups who took vitamin E, lycopene and coenzyme Q10. Potential confounding factors such as education, civil status, body mass index, consumption of alcohol and tobacco were considered in the statistical analysis.
"Longitudinal studies with more participants are necessary to confirm the result that vitamin C and beta-carotene might prevent the onset and development of Alzheimer's disease," Nagel said in a statement.
Vitamin C is found in citrus fruit; beta-carotene in carrots, spinach or apricots, Nagel said.
The findings were published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.