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The 1 Antioxidant That Slows Down Dementia

By on January 8, 2014
While a dose of vitamin E may help fight off the signs of premature aging, new research from the journal JAMA says there’s another good reason to take this vitamin: It could slow down the development of dementia.

Working on behalf of the Minneapolis VA Health Care System, research leader Dr. Maurice Dysken says that a daily dose of vitamin E reduces the rate of decline for dementia patients, allowing them to continue to do daily chores independently–such as taking a shower or getting dressed.

“These findings suggest that alpha tocopherol is beneficial in mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease by slowing functional decline and decreasing caregiver burden,” says Dysken.

Why Vitamin E Matters

Recruiting a total of 613 older adults diagnosed with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease, a type of dementia, researchers gave them one of four treatments: A daily vitamin E supplement, a dementia drug called memantine, both vitamin E and memantine, or a placebo.

Over a period of two years, researchers then observed how long they were able to consistently do everyday tasks, such as bathing, getting dressed, or preparing simple meals.

And the result? Vitamin E was more effective than placebo at slowing down cognitive decline–at an annual rate of 19 percent.

However, health experts point out that their vitamin E intake exceeded safety standards, drawing into question the safety of such a treatment.

“It is vitally important that people always seek advice from their doctor before considering taking supplements,” says Dr. Doug Brown, a director of research and development for the Alzheimer’s Society. “In this instance, the dosage of vitamin E taken by participants was much higher than the recommended daily allowance and was at a level that could be significantly harmful for some.”

While many of vitamin E’s benefits are well documented, serious adverse effects can occur if taken in excess–such as an increased risk of bleeding in the brain and risk of dying. And for many experts, such as Alzheimer’s Research UK director of research Dr. Eric Karran, the risk is just too high.

“Until the findings from this trial have been replicated, we would not encourage people to take high doses of vitamin E supplements to try to prevent or treat Alzheimer’s,” says Karran. “If people are concerned about their vitamin intake or diet, they should talk to their GP.”

What You Should Do

Have or at risk for dementia? While vitamin E seemed to help in this study, it isn’t a good idea to overdose on vitamin E to reap the same benefits–the risk of adverse effects is just too high at this point. But it doesn’t mean you can’t increase your vitamin E intake, according to researchers. Naturally adding more vitamin E to your diet by eating more vitamin E rich foods, such as eggs and nuts, may provide a slight energy and mental boost to keep your mind sharp for longer.

Readers: How do you get vitamin E into your diet?

Source:
Vitamin E Reduces Dementia Symptoms – BBC.co.uk

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