Geneva, Switzerland—The World Health Organization (WHO) released guidelines for Risk reduction of cognitive decline and dementia, which the Natural Products Association (NPA) is calling incomplete.
The document notes that dementia is a rapidly growing global public health problem, but that it is neither a natural consequence of aging nor inevitable.
Recommendations from WHO include:
- Physical activity, particularly for adults with normal cognition in order to reduce risk. Adults with mild cognitive impairment may also benefit.
- A Mediterranean-like diet may help those with normal cognition and mild cognitive impairment. At the very least, a “healthy, balanced” diet should be recommended to all adults.
- Vitamins B and E, polyunsaturated fatty acids and multi-complex supplementation should NOT be recommended, on the basis of evidence of “moderate” quality.
- Cessation of tobacco and alcohol use. The evidence for these recommendations, the document notes, is not strong, but there are plenty of documented health benefits.
- Other recommendations, including management of hypertension and diabetes, were made based on “very low” or “low” quality evidence.
NPA released a statement rejecting the guidelines on the basis that recommendations from WHO regarding supplements are misguided. Daniel Fabricant, Ph.D., president and CEO of NPA, said: “Vitamin and mineral supplements were never intended to treat diseases but suggesting they do not play a role in supporting cognitive health, especially in older individuals, is misguided. Recent studies have shown that not getting enough vitamin D can double the risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Finally, even though the WHO report cites vitamin B12 deficiency as a risk factor for dementia, it does not recommend its use to supplement the deficiency.”