Research Suggests Antioxidants May Not Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease, But Don’t Give Up on Blueberries

Sara Editor
  • Researchers at the University of California San Diego found that antioxidants may not stave off Alzheimer's disease as well as previous studies suggest.

    Patients with Alzheimer's disease often have widespread oxidative damage in their brain, which contributes to neuronal damage. Researchers have long hypothesized, with varying results, that antioxidants and other vitamins and minerals may control the dangerous free radicals produced when oxygen reacts with specific molecules in the brain. This is why many doctors will point to a diet high in antioxidant-rich food or antioxidant supplements as a way to stave off memory loss.

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    The study, reported in the Archives of Neurology, found that Alzheimer's patients who were put on antioxidant supplements or other nutritional supplements showed little to no change in their disease nor did is slow the progression of the disease when compared to a control group given placebos rather than the supplements.

    But there is an interesting distinction here: antioxidant supplements do not prevent Alzheimer's the way previously thought. It is well-documented that vitamins and minerals derived from natural sources are generally higher in quality than those same vitamins and minerals taken in pill form. A person who strives to eat a balanced diet high in antioxidants and other essential vitamins and minerals will probably have a lower risk of Alzheimer's disease than a person who lives a sedentary lifestyle with an unhealthy diet but pops a few vitamin supplements each day. Both are getting the necessary nutrients, but their method of delivery and the residual effects of their overall lifestyle are drastically different.

    A large body of research suggests that lifestyle factors may play heavily into the prevention of Alzheimer's disease along with significant intellectual stimulation throughout one's life. A person who maintains a healthy diet and active lifestyle both physically and intellectually will necessarily lower their risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.

    This is all to say, do not give up on antioxidants just yet, just be sure to enjoy them in a form that is delicious rather than just through a pill. Of course, you could also reach for a bag of popcorn.


    Works Cited:

    Galasko, D., et al. (2012). Antioxidants for Alzheimer's disease. Archives of Neurology, Retrieved from

    Phend, C. (2012, March 19). Antioxidants appear no help for Alzheimer's. MedPage Today. Retrieved from

    Martin, D. (2011, October 27). New reasons to pass the fruits and vegetables (and limit the vitamin supplements). HealthCentral. Retrieved from

    Williams JW, Plassman BL, Burke J, Holsinger T, Benjamin S. Preventing Alzheimer's Disease
    and Cognitive Decline. Evidence Report/Technology Assessment No. 193. (Prepared by the
    Duke Evidence-based Practice Center under Contract No. HHSA 290-2007-10066-I.) AHRQ

  • Publication No. 10-E005. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. April

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    2010. Retrieved from

Published On: March 27, 2012