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Vitamin E May Slow Progression of Alzheimer’s Disease

A recent study found that supplementation with vitamin E in the form of alpha tocopherol may slow functional decline in people with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease, with no adverse side effects.

Participants in the study included 613 individuals with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease. Over the course of approximately 2.5 years, the participants underwent one of four interventions:

1. 2000 IU/day of vitamin E;

2. 20 mg/day of memantine (an Alzheimer’s disease medication);

3. a combination of memantine and vitamin E;

4. a placebo.

When the researchers examined the data from the 561 individuals who completed the study, they found that the vitamin E group had slower progression in the disease compared to the placebo group. The slower progression was equivalent to a delay of 19% per year, or a delay of approximately 6.2 months over the follow-up period.

The placebo group lost approximately three units more than the vitamin E group on the Alzheimer’s Disease Cooperative Study/Activities of Daily Living (ADCS-ADL) inventory when compared with the vitamin E group. A loss of that magnitude is equivalent to losing the ability to get dressed or bathe independently.

No beneficial change in the progression of the disease was observed in the memantine group or the vitamin E plus memantine group. Both of those groups did, however, have more serious side effects consisting of infections or infestations when compared with the placebo.

Researchers from the Minneapolis VA Health Care System conducted the study. It was published in the January 2014 issue of JAMA.

Vitamin E has eight different forms: four tocopherols (alpha, beta, gamma, delta) and four tocotrienols (alpha, beta, gamma, delta) and has been shown to help many aspects of the body. Tocopherol is the most common form in both the American diet and European diets. Tocotrienols are less prominent in the Western diet.

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).

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