Maintaining Brain Health

Other Preventive Strategies

  • There are many other strategies you can do to maintain your health and prevent cognitively impairing conditions. Some of the most commonly discussed strategies are below:

    Stay Engaged in Social Activities

    Socializing is a great work-out for your brain. Meeting friends, attending lectures, joining clubs, and building new relationships are all beneficial strategies for keeping your brain vital. Just like mental and physical exercise, social stimulation encourages your brain to be active and build more brain connections.


    The biggest challenge in evaluating for preventive effects of supplements is that nutraceutical corporations are not required to prove that their particular supplement works in humans. Consequently, there is less research evaluating the effect of supplements on cognition, dementia and Alzheimer's disease. Another difficulty in evaluating supplement research is that the particular form of a supplement may not be the same form that is found in foods. For example, alpha tocopherol is the most common supplemental form of Vitamin E, but Vitamin E in food is a mixture of tocopherols (70% is gamma tocopherol, which is 4 times more prevalent than alpha tocopherol). This difference between supplement and food sources of Vitamin E may be the basis for the finding that Vitamin E supplements at doses greater than 800 IU daily actually increase risk of certain heart diseases.

    The majority of studies of the effect of certain vitamins and nutrients therefore come from studies of dietary sources. When supplements mimic dietary sources in their composition of a vitamin or nutrient, they may be as efficacious as the dietary source. However, in most cases, the research needs to be done.

    The 10-year Rotterdam study found that high dietary intake of vitamins C and E reduced AD risk by 20% while supplemental forms did not. This difference may again reflect the difference between dietary and supplemental compositions of Vitamins C and E. The most bioactive forms of supplemental Vitamin C come from rose hips and estherified Vitamin C. Vitamin E supplements, having a 4:1 ratio of gamma-to-alpha tocopherol mimic that found in dietary sources.

    The 15-year Washington County prospective study found that high intake of fruits and vegetables (5 to 9 servings daily) lowers risk of death due to any cause by 37%, cancer by 45%, and heart disease by 24%. The 5-year British Medical Council found that dietary vitamin C, but not supplemental alpha tocopherol, beta carotene or retinol reduced these same disease risks by 46-49%.

    Currently there is no consensus on positive or negative effects of these supplements. If you wish to incorporate a nutritional supplement strategy into your preventative routine, it should be done in conjunction with consultation from a nutritional expert. Many of these supplements can interact with medications and might not be well suited to your overall medical condition.