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Alzheimer's in the Down Syndrome Community: Why and What to Do?

The incidence of early Alzheimer's disease is very high in the Down Syndrome population. The average age of diagnosis is fifty-five years old. There is a large accumulation of beta-amyloid protein associated with Alzheimer's by the mid-thirties (age) in Down Syndrome (1). The presence of neuroinflammation is a common trait of both diseases (2).

Also, mitochondrial dysfunction is a primary factor in Down Syndrome, sharing this characteristic with autism. Mitochondria are the energy factories inside the cells. In other words, there is an energy deficit in Down Syndrome that is affecting the brain function, including memory (3).

In summary, neuroinflammation and mitochondrial issues can be drivers of Alzheimer's dementia in the Down Syndrome community.

What To Do?

*Nutrition can be a powerful tool to improve neuroinflammation and mitochondria.

*An anti-inflammatory diet like the Mediterranean Diet can be an excellent choice for Down Syndrome. Mediterranean Diet, which is rich in healthy fats like olive oil, is crucial for brain health. The Mediterranean diet is abundant in beans, fruit, vegetables, nuts, fish, legumes, potatoes, seeds, chicken, and low processed foods.

*Vitamin D, which is a potent anti-inflammatory, is depleted in Down Syndrome. It makes a lot of sense that replenishing this critical vitamin will help reduce inflammation (4).

*Nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, Coq10, resveratrol, and green tea have shown therapeutic potential for Down Syndrome due to beneficial mitochondria effects (5).

As you see, there is potential for improvements in Down Syndrome by optimizing the diet and using high-quality nutrients.

"Disbeliefs start adding roadblocks to ideas."

Jack Canfield

American Author

Have a great week,

David Rivas, RPh, MSc, CCN


(1): Startin, C. M., Hamburg, S., Hithersay, R., Al-Janabi, T., Mok, K. Y., Hardy, J., ... & Karmiloff-Smith, A. (2019). Cognitive markers of preclinical and prodromal Alzheimer's disease in Down syndrome. Alzheimer's & Dementia, 15(2), 245-257.

(2): Wilcock, D. M., Hurban, J., Helman, A. M., Sudduth, T. L., McCarty, K. L., Beckett, T. L., ... & Head, E. (2015). Down syndrome individuals with Alzheimer's disease have a distinct neuroinflammatory phenotype compared to sporadic Alzheimer's disease. Neurobiology of Aging, 36(9), 2468-2474.

(3): Valenti, D., de Bari, L., De Filippis, B., Henrion-Caude, A., & Vacca, R. A. (2014). Mitochondrial dysfunction as a central actor in intellectual disability-related diseases: an overview of Down syndrome, autism, Fragile X and Rett syndrome. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 46, 202-217.

(4): El-Hawary, M. M., El-Shafie, S. M., El-Awady, H., Ragab, T., & Nabile, R. (2018). Assessment of serum level of vitamin D in infants and children with Down syndrome. Middle East Journal of Medical Genetics, 7(2), 104.

(5): Valenti, D., Braidy, N., De Rasmo, D., Signorile, A., Rossi, L., Atanasov, A. G., ... & Vacca, R. A. (2018). Mitochondria as pharmacological targets in Down syndrome. Free Radical Biology and Medicine, 114, 69-83.

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