Vitamin E May Lower Risk of Dementia

Rotterdam, the Netherlands—A new study published in the July issue of the Archives of Neurology found that consuming vitamin E may lower a person’s risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Researchers at Erasmus Medical Center, based here, assessed the diets of 5,395 people (ages 55 years and older) from 1990 to 1993 and focused on their intake of four antioxidants: vitamin E, vitamin C, beta carotene and flavonoids. After almost 10 years, 465 participants developed dementia, and 365 of them had Alzheimer’s disease. However, the individuals who consumed the most vitamin E, from foods like margarine, sunflower oil, butter, cooking fat, soybean oil and mayonnaise, were 25% less likely to develop dementia than the group of participants who consumed the least vitamin E. The first group consumed about 18.5 milligrams of vitamin E per day, while the latter consumed about nine milligrams per day.

Dementia develops from the accumulation of beta-amyloid and oxidative damage in the brain, resulting in the production of nitric oxide radicals and downstream neurodegenerative effects, according to the authors of the study, and a “powerful fat-soluble antioxidant,” like vitamin E may combat this.

There are previous studies that have found vitamin E helpful in Alzheimer’s patients. A study conducted by Ohio State University in 2003 found that a yearlong treatment combining vitamin E and donepezil slowed down the cognitive decline of patients with Alzheimer’s disease, according to the university’s Web site. Also, a study published in Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences in 2004 found that patients with the disease had low levels of vitamin E in their cerebrospinal fluid. 

Published in WholeFoods Magazine August 2010 (published ahead of print on July 27, 0210)