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The term “mid life crisis” has taken on a whole new meaning. As research emerges that links low testosterone to the development of mild cognitive impairment and subsequent dementia, a large number of men and women have a real crisis approaching as they approach the later years of life. Almost 50 million people worldwide suffer from dementia, with roughly 8 million new cases appearing every year. 2010 research showed a correlation between Mild Cognitive Impairment and low testosterone levels with the eventual development of dementia.

Dementia is an umbrella term for a set of symptoms including impaired thinking and memory. Dementia is a syndrome or collection of symptoms, not a “disease” per se. Dementia as a group of symptoms affects mental cognitive tasks such as memory and reasoning.

However, issues other than Alzheimer’s can cause dementia. While Alzheimer’s accounts for about 65 percent of dementia cases, other types include: Vascular, Parkinson’s, Lewy Body and Frontotemporal. Other common causes of dementia are Huntington’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

While many people associate declining levels of testosterone with decreased levels of arousal or libido, the reality is that diminished levels of Testosterone are associated with a multitude of symptoms including dementia, difficulty in maintaining control of blood glucose, unhealthy cholesterol levels.

Appropriate brain function is dependent on appropriate levels of testosterone. Studies have validated that compared to controls – individuals with Alzheimer’s and dementia symptoms have lower levels of testosterone compared with case matched peers.

This is likely related to the frontal lobe of the brain which contains receptors for testosterone. Hence low levels result in loss of cognitive function including memory issues and other symptoms of dementia. Early subtle symptoms include depression, lack of motivation, loss of libido, and a grumpy attitude.

Additionally, low testosterone has been associated with an increase in the deposition of beta amyloid proteins which are hallmarks of Alzheimer’s Dementia. Additionally, healthy appropriate levels of Testosterone are associated with maintaining vital levels of the acetylcholine, which is the “learning and memory” neurotransmitter. An important co function of testosterone is the influence on dopamine. The protective effects of dopamine for parkinsons disease are an essential aspect of why low T therapy is so important for men and women

Diet has an important role for dementia symptoms

Whether your experiencing mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or dementia symptoms, testosterone therapy can improve quality of life. Results are variable with each individual responding uniquely. This is because of the potential for aromatization where Testosterone is converted to Estrogen which serves to worsen the symptoms of dementia. Aromatization is seen commonly with cases of high blood sugar & insulin resistance or “pre-diabetes.” In these cases, a low carbohydrate diet and ample fats and protein can improve brain health while diminishing the conversion of testosterone to estrogen.

Treatment of dementia depends on its cause. In the case of most progressive dementias, including Alzheimer’s disease, there is no cure and no treatment that slows or stops its progression. But there are drug treatments that may temporarily improve symptoms.

In 2004, investigators at Wayne State University examined testosterone levels in men enrolled in a larger aging study. They found that every 50% increase in free testosterone in the bloodstream was associated with a 26% decrease in the risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Additionally, a 2013 study showed significant improvement in cognitive function in women using daily testosterone therapy to achieve upper normal limits for a female.

In short, research shows dementia more likely to develop in men who have testosterone deficiency.