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Got cognitive Dysfunction?

Once again, a new study reveals the importance of B vitamins
in suppressing homocysteine (the amino acid that promotes
plaque buildup in arteries) and maintaining healthy cognitive

Two years later, 45 subjects had been diagnosed with a dementia – mostly Alzheimer's. Compared to subjects
who maintained good cognitive function, subjects in the
newly-developed dementia group were far more likely to have
lowered folate levels and higher homocysteine than they did
at the outset of the study.

Over the past few months we've seen a number of studies that
demonstrate just how important folate is in our daily diets.
The best sources of folate include citrus fruits, tomatoes,
leafy green vegetables, avocados, bananas, asparagus, whole
grains, and pinto, navy, and kidney beans Millions of people around the world, including thousands of scientists, are desperately seeking a good treatment for Alzheimer’s disease — or, almost beyond hope, a cure. So it’s no wonder that many readers have been asking us about a new book enticingly called “Alzheimer’s Disease: What If There Was a Cure?” by Dr. Mary Newport (a pediatrician), which has gotten lots of media coverage. The proposed cure is not one of those expensive Alzheimer’s drugs (which have marginal benefits), but rather a simple food that’s supposed to have dramatic effects on people with the disease. The food is coconut oil.

The appeal of a personal story Dr. Newport’s book is highly personal. Her husband, Steve, has Alzheimer’s, and this is her search for something to halt or reverse his decline. Her quest led her to research suggesting that ketones may help treat various neurological disorders, including Alzheimer’s. Ketones are byproducts of the breakdown of fats in the body; small amounts are normally produced. Ketone levels rise when you fast or go on a very-low-carbohydrate diet (which can lead to a state called ketosis).

Another way to boost ketones in your body is to consume fats called medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), of which coconut and palm kernel oils are good sources. MCTs are converted in the liver into ketones, which can be used by the brain and other organs as fuel; they are a more immediate source of energy than other fats and are not as readily stored as body fat. Ketones can provide energy to cells without the need for insulin, the hormone the body relies on to get glucose from the blood into cells. The theory is that ketones might provide an alternative energy source for brain cells that have lost their ability to use glucose as a result of Alzheimer’s.

So Dr. Newport began feeding her husband coconut oil, later combining it with a more-concentrated MCT oil. She reports that this improved his short-term memory, alleviated his depression, revived his personality and reduced his walking and vision problems — and that an MRI showed that his brain had stopped shrinking.

Coconut oil — the bigger picture link

• Research on ketones and MCTs for dementia and other neurological problems has been interesting and should continue. At this point, it’s not clear whether they are beneficial — and if so, under what conditions. Even if they are, it’s probably a leap of faith to think that coconut oil would yield enough ketones to have a meaningful and persistent effect.

• Countless health claims have been made for coconut oil in recent years. There was even a book called “The Coconut Oil Miracle”.The oil is supposed to strengthen immunity, improve digestion, cause weight loss, slow aging and prevent heart disease and arthritis, for instance. (Interestingly, cognitive benefits have seldom been mentioned before.) As we’ve reported previously, these claims don’t hold water. Because of its MCTs, it does take a few more calories for the body to process coconut oil, compared to other fats — but any calorie-burning effect would be insignificant.

CONTINUE TO PAGE 3 to read about the recommended intake