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Lack of Vitamin E Could Lead to Cognitive Impairment

Vitamin E doesn't make the news as often as vitamins D or B12, but that doesn't mean it's not essential for your health. It is especially important as we age, a fact demonstrated in a recent study showing that lack of all the forms of vitamin E contributes to Alzheimer's and Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI, a precursor to Alzheimer's).

The study was conducted by researchers based at the Aging Research Center at the Karolinska Institut in Stockholm, Sweden. Their findings were published online ahead of print in Neurobiology of Aging on December 20, 2011.

Vitamin E exists in 8 different forms, which include tocopherols and tocotrienols. The most common form of vitamin E is alpha-tocopherol, but to get the full benefits of this nutrient you must consume all of the 8 forms found in nature.

For this study, the researchers examined vitamin E parameters and vitamin E damage markers in 168 individuals with Alzheimer's, 166 individuals with MCI and 187 individuals with no signs of cognitive impairment.

They found that the participants with Alzheimer's and MCI exhibited significantly lower vitamin E plasma levels and significantly higher vitamin E damage markers when compared with the cognitively normal group. The researchers suggest that this points to an association between the oxidative stress that occurs during the onset of Alzheimer's disease and vitamin E’s ability to reduce oxidative stress.

Cognitive health isn't the only reason to take vitamin E. Previous studies have shown that vitamin E intake is associated with lower cholesterol, healthier skin, maintaining a proper hormonal balance, and preventing amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

Dietary sources of vitamin E include sunflower seeds, breakfast cereal, tomatoes, dried herbs, and dried apricots. Try sprinkling some seeds in your cereal for a double dosage of vitamin E or carry around some apricots for a snack in the afternoon.

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