Can vitamin supplements and herbals slow memory loss due to Alzheimer's disease?

10 answers | Last updated: Mar 28, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

Fish oil, Saint-John's-wort, saw palmetto, vitamin C -- if there's a vitamin or herbal supplement out there, my health-conscious mom has taken it. It was a big blow when my dad was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease at 67. But Mom believes the right pills will slow his memory loss. Can vitamins and supplements improve memory?

Expert Answers

Maria Caserta is a geriatric psychiatrist and the associate director of the Memory Center at the University of Chicago.

No vitamin or herb can improve his memory. Nor can they stop the memory loss. Certain vitamins and prescription drugs, a good diet, exercise, and continuing mental stimulation -- all those things together could be helpful in retaining memory longer, however.

There's some evidence that B vitamins, vitamin E, and vitamin C may help slow memory loss, though the effect appears to be minimal and long-term studies have not been done. But your mom should not give your dad any kind of supplement without talking to his primary care doctor, who will know what medications he's taking and how they interact with supplements. High doses of certain vitamins can interfere with medications or cause side effects. For example, if he's on a blood thinner such as Coumadin, taking a lot of vitamin E is not suggested because vitamin E also thins the blood.

If he's not already taking a general multivitamin, I might suggest taking one -- but your parents should show it to his doctor first. The doctor can also advise whether your dad has some dietary deficiency and needs more of a specific vitamin.

Unfortunately, as far as herbals go, reliable studies haven't shown any to be effective in slowing memory loss

SEE ALSO: Find Memory Care Near You

Community Answers

A fellow caregiver answered...

There has been some very positive research on Vinpocetine an extract from Perwinkle.

Studies have shown a increase in blood flow to the brain, improved oxygen and nutrient delivery. Again never take anything without checking with your doctor.

I was surprised at the expert answer as there have been many studies on the Vitamin B family (B5,B6,B12 and Folate) that showed some positive improvements in memory in healthy individuals.

A fellow caregiver answered...

Just received a mailing from Dr. Julian Whitaker - Health & Healing Publication discussing a possible solution for Alzheimer's Disease - Coconut Oil. You can view the work done by Dr. Newport at the site: Watch her interview on 6 videos for her work with her husband - an Alzheimer's patient who was in later stages of the disease. I am going to proceed with the treatment for my wife and pray that it work. Ed Gronka

Jello answered...

I have been giving my mother turmeric for almost 2 yrs now and her doctor is all for it. It is the spice used in india which is cumin. My mother takes 2 a day (1 AM, 1PM) she has improved greatly on her mini psych test when I take her in every three months. She has recently started on Resveratrol which is in red wine. It was on 60 min. that it has shown on mice that resveratrol actually has been removing the amyloid protein plaque that forms on the alzheimer brain. I never let her run out of turmeric, resveratrol and also alpha lipoic acid which had shown that all alzheimer patients should take. It is an antioxidant and there is infor. on the internet for all three regarding alzheimers disease. She also takes fish oil pills for her heart but it is suppose to be good for the disease also. Hope this helps.

Chica60 answered...

I sprinkle curry powder on every thing my mom loves it and I also give my mom Acetyl-L Cartnite with Alpha Lipoic Acid, I get it at GNC. The FDA says nothing but a drug can cure anything and illegal to say otherwise. I say it doesn't hurt to use it and you may be surprised.

Tiredbutsmiling answered...

there's a prescription vitamin Cerefolin that has been well researched and helps with memory, my father also takes prescription folic acid to help with homocysteine levels (i have had a couple of blood levels taken to rule out confusion caused by this). All of the above, tumeric, acetyl-l cartnite with alpha lipoic acid, resveratrol, vinpocetine and huperazine A all are well researched. Amyloid plaques are not the last word in alzheimers... a well done study performed revealed that we can have massive amounts of amyloid plaque and not show signs of dementia. my approach (since he had a couple of ischemic strokes) is to clear the arteries and other blood vessels in the brain, which both supply all those good vitamins to the right places, and remove the waste products which might contribute to the dementia, and provide enough stimulation so the brain has the opportunity to grow new neural paths in the remaining healthy portions. I truly believe we might not have all the answers here, but are on the right track for my father. it's been 4 years since his last stroke, and there are things he can do now that he couldn't do 2 years ago. by the way, we tried the coconut oil, and he seemed worse for it. I use it now occasionally when cooking as it won't increase bad cholesterol levels.

Granded answered...

We have suspected that my wife has AD or another form of dementia, but when we visited the Neurologist recently for her initial assessment, the doctors seem to think that she does not have either, though they don't know what. They didn't conclusively rule AD or dementia either. INstead, they are initially focusing on Vitamin B12, folate, or thyroid deficiencies as a possible cause.

Blood work is to be performed soon to reach that determination.

Meanwhile, she has gotten back onto her regular, rather robust, vitamin regimen, hoping that this will help. She still has some memory lapses, but seems to be doing somewhat better, but she has always gone in phases over the past year or so.

We'll see, and I'll post as more becomes available to us.

Bllondie answered...

Great article! I too have read the positive things from coconut oil, along with the B vitamins. My dad was put on high dose of B's, he really did show some improvement. Not in memory, but in his overall stamina and trying to do little things for himself, even if they were wrong - he was trying.

Blacksam answered...

The latest good news for excellent responce in treating AD is using 2 TEASPOON GROUND CINNAMON IN GREEN TEA DAILY.It may take 3 months to show a good responce

Tinkywink answered...

The most recent supplement I've read about to help with this is astaxanthin. It's a carotenoid and is the one that gives flamingoes their pink color.