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Prof John Nolan and Dr Rebecca Power of the Nutrition Research Centre Ireland (NRCI) at Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT), in collaboration with Prof Ríona Mulcahy, Consultant Physician in General and Geriatric Medicine at University Hospital Waterford, recently unveiled the results of re-MIND (Memory Intervention with Nutrition for Dementia), a two-year nutritional interventional trial.

This work builds on previously-published studies by Prof Mulcahy, Prof Nolan, and Dr Power that specific nutrients — namely vitamin E, omega-3 fatty acids and carotenoids, which are depleted in patients with Alzheimer’s disease — can be improved with nutritional supplementation and are associated with improvements in quality of life.

The outcomes of the trial were presented at the 2021 International Brain and Ocular Nutrition Conference, which was hosted online at the NRCI headquarters at the WIT west campus in Carriganore. Prof Nolan outlined that the goal of the re-MIND project was to explore the effects of carotenoids (plant-based pigments) and omega-3 fatty acid supplementation on the natural progression of the mild-to-moderate stage of Alzheimer’s disease.

The re-MIND trial is the first placebo-controlled nutritional interventional trial in patients with Alzheimer’s disease to demonstrate significant improvements in antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrients (omega-3 fatty acids and carotenoids) for the active intervention group compared to placebo. The trial also demonstrated changes in quality of life, with carers reporting improvements in memory, mood, and day-to-day activities for the patients on the active intervention compared to placebo.

Prof Nolan said: “Understanding more about targeted nutrition and brain function will allow the development of novel pathways to help reduce the risk of neurodegenerative conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease.

“Following this trial, it is clear that quality of life can be enhanced for patients with Alzheimer’s disease who are provided with stable and effective doses of these natural nutrients. The data also tells us that early intervention yields the best outcomes. I hope that targeted nutrition becomes an essential part of the management of Alzheimer’s disease.”

Prof Mulcahy added: “The results of this latest trial add to the cumulating body of evidence that targeted nutrition can have a positive impact on symptoms and quality of life in Alzheimer’s disease. We believe that these results warrant large-scale multi-centre trials in order to continue this essential research and that this goal should be supported by research funding bodies, philanthropy, and Government.”