New research from the University of British Columbia has concluded that the foundations for Alzheimer’s may be laid as early as in the womb or as a newborn baby if the mother or new child does not get adequate amounts of vitamin A.

The research found that the onset of the disease could be slowed considerably by supplementing babies with the vitamin as early as possible. 

Dr. Weihong Song, of the University of British Columbia, stated of the findings:

“Our study clearly shows that marginal deficiency of vitamin A, even as early as in pregnancy, has a detrimental effect on brain development and has a long lasting effect that may facilitate Alzheimer’s disease in later life.”

In order to come to the conclusion, Song and his associates examined the effect of a lack of vitamin A in mice prone to Alzheimer’s in utero and as newborns.

It was also discovered that mice that had less than the ideal amount of vitamin A in the womb and received the vitamin as newborns were still unable to perform as well as their counterparts who had adequate levels of the vitamin in utero on cognitive function tests.

The team found that even a small vitamin A deficiency could increase amyloid beta, the plaque that kills brain neurons contributing to Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

Song added:

“In some cases, providing supplements to the newborn Alzheimer’s disease model mice could reduce the amyloid beta level and improve learning and memory deficits. It is a matter of the earlier, the better.”

But how does this translate to humans?

Mice are very similar in their makeup to humans, which is often why they are used in such experiments.

However, the team also studied 330 elderly Chinese people.

They found that 75% of them with a vitamin A deficiency suffered from Alzheimer’s or some form of dementia.

This was compared to less than 50% found in those who had plenty of vitamin A in their bodies.

A vitamin A deficiency, however, is relatively rare in developed countries.

Pregnant women concerned about their child’s neurodevelopment can supplement with a multivitamin or ensure that they eat plenty of fruits and vegetables.

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