Can Vitamin C Stop a Brain From Aging?

March 22, 2014 Updated: March 22, 2014

“I want to die with my boots on!” is an oft-heard expression. But it poses a problem today when many are living and dying not even knowing whether their boots are on.

Does Alzheimer’s disease have to happen? Are cholesterol deposits in arteries starving our brain cells of oxygen? Can we do anything about it?

A report in the journal Dementia and Geriatric Disorders claims there’s a link between heart attacks and Alzheimer’s disease. The link is atherosclerosis (hardening of arteries) due to cholesterol.

Sir William Osler, professor of medicine at both McGill and Johns Hopkins universities, once remarked, “It’s lucky to be born with good rubber.” Namely, it’s best to have flexible, open arteries that carry sufficient amounts of oxygenated blood to all the body’s organs. After all, we know what happens in a house with clogged pipes. In humans, narrowed arteries cause the same trouble.

Researchers at the Kaiser Permanente Center in Oakland, California, and the University of Kuopio in Finland, followed 10,000 people for 40 years. They found that high blood cholesterol was associated with a 66 percent higher risk of Alzheimer’s. Moreover, those with even borderline levels of blood cholesterol were 52 percent more likely to develop this frightening disease.

The brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease contain lumps of what’s called amyloid plaques. These cause nerve-cell death in the brain, and the first to be attacked are the nerves in the brain’s memory center.

Researchers at Lund University in Sweden discovered that when they treated the brain tissue of mice suffering from Alzheimer’s with vitamin C, the amyloid plaques dissolved.

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Research for and Against

What causes Alzheimer’s and how to treat this crippling disorder is still unknown. But I’d agree with Osler that open, flexible arteries are the prerequisite to good health. And vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant, is known to rid the body of free radicals, the end products of metabolism.

But what is the relationship between the heart and Alzheimer’s disease? We know that coronary arteries, clogged with cholesterol deposits, make heart attack the No. 1 killer.

We also know now something we did not know until a few years ago, that high concentrations of vitamin C and lysine can reverse atherosclerosis lesions in coronary arteries. This is a discovery of unparalleled proportions, and photographic evidence proves it happens.

Dr. Alvaro Alonso, assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health, reports that post-mortem studies reveal that the brains of patients suffering from dementia often show damage to small arteries. These arteries may have triggered small strokes that eventually led to brain damage.

The last thing we need as we age is intracranial atherosclerosis that triggers small areas of brain damage. So is vitamin C able to prevent it?

Other studies I found in medical literature said that vitamin C was either controversial or had been shown to be ineffective in treating Alzheimer’s disease. But these studies had one monumental fault. Researchers were using no more than 500 milligrams of vitamin C daily, a totally ineffective dose.

These results reminded me of the Harvard study that claimed vitamin C had no effect on coronary disease. How could that be? They were using only 75 milligrams of C. As Linus Pauling used to tell his critics, “It’s the dosage, stupid.”

I do not possess a crystal ball, nor am I related to the Almighty. But since a product called Medi-C Plus contains a high concentration of vitamin C and lysine, and studies show it can prevent and reverse cholesterol blockages in coronary arteries, good sense should tell us it could also do the same to arteries in the brain.

But hell will freeze over before an expensive study using high amounts of C and lysine is done. These natural ingredients cannot be patented, so who would pay for such a study? In the meantime, those who are already taking high doses of vitamin C and lysine to help prevent heart attack will hopefully get the added benefit of decreasing the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

High doses of C and lysine can be obtained in health food stores.

Dr. Gifford-Jones is a medical journalist with a private medical practice in Toronto. His website is He may be contacted at

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