Food for thought
The present and future of dietary supplements in the treatment of cognitive decline
Imagine entering your home and not remembering who are your sons and daughters. That is dementia, one of the defining medical conditions of the XXI century. Affecting eight million people every year worldwide, dementia disintegrates minds, robbing patients of their own identity. It affects dramatically the patient’s loved ones, creating a burden that ripples in family and society, beyond the single affected individual.
Cognitive decline has been called the “silent epidemic”, since it is overshadowed by leading causes of death, such as cancer and cardiovascular disease. Yet the numbers are huge. 5 to 8% of seniors beyond 60, and 50% of seniors beyond 85, will develop some form of cognitive impairment.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that today 47.5 millions of people suffer from dementia, with a total cost of 604 billion US dollars – about 1% of the worldwide gross domestic product (1). WHO predicts the total number of dementia cases to sky rocket, with 75.6 million patients in 2030 and 135.5 million in 2050.
What we call “dementia” and “cognitive decline” is actually a mix of conditions -all impacting functions such as memory, thinking and orientation. Alzheimer’s disease takes the lion’s share, being responsible of about 60-70% of cases. Alzheimer’s molecular fingerprint is the abnormal aggregation of the proteins beta-amyloid and tau in brain cells into dense plaques and tangles. These release smaller -but more toxic- aggregates, ultimately killing the neuron and spreading the disease to the neighbouring ones. However the compl ...