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A smart pill for seniors?

2:49pm, May 8, 2007

From Washington, D.C., at the Experimental Biology 2007 Conference

Many people approaching retirement age find that memories fade and quick-wittedness flags. Scientists at the University of Massachusetts in Lowell have formulated what they call a "smart pill" to optimize brain health in such people. In pilot trials, its combination of dietary supplements boosted performance on simple mental tests by middle-aged and elderly adults.

Throughout life, the brain and other tissues are assaulted by biologically damaging oxidative chemical reactions triggered by pollutants, disease, and more. Although the body makes protective antioxidants, its capacity to do so wanes with age.

Thomas Shea and his colleagues recruited 100 healthy men and women for their smart-pill trial. Half received a placebo. The rest got the patent-pending supplement combination, which included the antioxidant vitamins folic acid, B12, and vitamin E. The pills also contained a building block

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