Medically Reviewed by Jacque Parker, RN
Alzheimer's disease is a disease that devastates people in a very distressing way. It takes away the core of who we are and leaves us without the memories we took a lifetime to create. Scientists are currently seeking out ways to identify the origins of Alzheimer's disease and use it to defeat the disease. There are countless leads sending science in many different directions, but some discoveries seem to be more pertinent than others. Zinc, a common mineral, and nutrient plays an appreciable role in the development of Alzheimer's disease. The body of research pointing this out appears to reveal a unique relationship between the mineral and our central nervous system.
Zinc content levels in the brains of Alzheimer's disease patients are elevated and zinc transporters, molecules in the body that help zinc enter cells, appear to be elevated. These elevated zinc levels lead to higher concentrations of amyloid beta proteins in the brain. Amyloid beta proteins are regarded as the most significant biomarker of Alzheimer's disease making zinc a clear factor in the development of this particular form of dementia. The exact mechanism behind this connection isn't precisely understood, but it appears that zinc may trigger cell death when excess amounts are present.
There is an inverse relationship between zinc and omega-3 fatty acids such as docosahexaenoic acid. DHA is an essential building block of the brain, and it's known to reduce zinc content within neuronal cells substantially. Its effects on the brain appear to be the exact opposite of zinc and it may even help prevent the onset of Alzheimer's disease in susceptible persons. This symbiotic relationship is going to play an important role in helping scientists discover better treatments for Alzheimer's and perhaps even its cure.