Algae pigment chases dementia marker
Big Pharma's going to hate this -- and that means I love it already: One of the tiniest and most humble creatures on the planet could hold the key to preventing Alzheimer's disease.
It's an algae called Haematococcus pluvialis, and it sits literally at the bottom of the food chain.
Because of its pink pigment, which comes from the antioxidant astaxanthin, anything that eats this algae also turns pink... as do the creatures that eat those creatures, and so on.
Think shrimp, salmon and flamingos.
But to explain how it works, I'm going to have to take you from the bottom of the food chain to the brink of cutting-edge science, where researchers have been investigating a compound called phospholipid hydroperoxides.
It's called PLOOH for short, but don't snicker at the name -- this stuff is deadly serious: It builds up in the red blood cells of dementia patients.
Now, Japanese researchers say astaxanthin can actually flush all that extra PLOOH right out of your system (OK, you can snicker a little).
In a double-blind experiment, 30 healthy volunteers between the ages of 50 and 69 years old were given either a placebo or 6 or 12 mg of astaxanthin a day for 12 weeks.
While the placebo patients had no change in PLOOH, those given the astaxanthin saw their levels plunge by between 40 and 50 percent, with those who took the higher dose getting the biggest benefit, according to the study in BMJ.
Since dementia can take so many years before it manifests, it may be decades before anyone can say for certain whether astaxanthin will stop it.
But there's no reason to wait -- because by then, it might be too late for you. And besides, there's enough research on its other benefits that I've already been calling this stuff "the alpha antioxidant."
And with 500 times the antioxidant power of vitamin E, it's easy to see why.
Studies have found that astaxanthin can protect everything from your heart to your eyes -- and since it's sat at the bottom of the food chain for millions of years, you might say it's been time-tested by Mother Nature herself.
You can't beat that kind of lab work!
About the author
William Campbell Douglass I.I., M.D. has been called "the conscience of modern medicine."
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