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Vitamin C injections may stave off Alzheimer’s

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Medical researchers have been proclaiming the benefits of the powerful antioxidant vitamin C - although the scientific community is often playing catch-up with a health regimen the public has been using for years.

The benefits of vitamin C in the body's battle to maintain health are reflected in its popularity in health food and mega-vitamin stores nationwide. Now researchers tell us that injections of vitamin C may play a role in staving off the onset of Alzheimer's disease.When taken orally, in the form of a capsule or powder, most of the antioxidant is lost in urine. But researchers at New York's Sloan-Kettering Center are administering injections of the vitamin in the form of dehydroascorbic acid into lab mice.

The results are encouraging. The researchers report that the injections deliver a more potent form of the vitamin, in the form of ascorbic acid, more directly to the brain. Writing in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, cancer specialist Dr. David Agus said the method could lead to new therapies for diseases linked to brain cell damage. This could include diseases such as Alzheimer's, which breaks down communication between billions of brain cells.

Study co-author Dr. David Golde said the findings have "therapeutic implications, because we can potentially increase vitamin C concentrations in the brain by increasing the blood level of dehydroascorbic acid."

Earlier studies have shown that vitamin E helps delay the onset of Alzheimer's symptoms by up to seven months when used in conjunction with selegiline, a drug also used to combat the symptoms of Parkinson's disease.

In other health related news:

- Researchers from Tufts and Harvard universities indicated that long-term vitamin C use - approximately 220 milligrams daily - cut early cataract development risk by 77 percent among subjects averaging 62 years in age.

Writing in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers said the study of 247 women was part of the ongoing Nurses' Health Study. Long-term use was described as 10 years or more.

The study appears to support earlier findings indicating vitamin C use reduces cataract development linked to aging. Study authors said the latest findings are unique because they provide data on long-term use of the supplement and "it appears that one has to supplement (vitamin C) for a long period of time to enjoy the benefit."

Based on the findings, researchers suspect the presence of vitamin C helps prevent lens tissue deterioration from free radicals, known to cause molecular damage to human cells.

- Taking vitamins C and E before sitting down to a high-fat feast can help block harmful blood vessel effects linked to coronary heart disease, a new study says.

Without the vitamin dosage, University of Maryland School of Medicine researchers found that endothelial function, which helps keep blood flowing freely in arteries, normally slows down after a meal containing 900 calories and 50 grams of fat.

But when vitamins C and E were taken prior to the meal, that slowdown was temporarily halted, the researchers reported in The Journal of the American Medical Association.