Two new studies have found that high levels of vitamin E are associated with a lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
Elizabeth E. Devore, ScD, of the Erasmus Medical Center, Netherlands, and her colleagues investigated dietary and health data in 5,395 men and women age 55 and older. After an average follow up of almost 10 years, 465 of the participants were diagnosed with dementia. Of those, 365 were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
People with the highest dietary intake of vitamin E were one-fourth less likely to develop either Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementia.
In the other study, Francesca Mangialasche, MD, of the Karolinska Institute, Sweden, and her colleagues analyzed the relationship between blood levels of total vitamin E and the eight chemical subfractions of the vitamin and the odds of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Mangialasche focused on 232 men and women who were at least 80 years old. Fifty-seven of the subjects were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s over the next six years.
High blood levels of total vitamin E were associated with a 45 percent lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease. The four tocopherols and four tocotrienols that make up vitamin E also seemed to protect against Alzheimer’s, but beta-tocopherol seemed to exert the greatest single benefit.
Mangialasche noted that vitamin E is the body’s principal fat-soluble antioxidant, and that it plays an important role in protecting cell membranes. Damage to these membranes may be a factor in Alzheimer’s.
“The protective activity of vitamin E seems to be related to the combination of different forms, rather than alpha-tocopherol alone,” Mangialasche wrote.
Although most vitamin E is sold in the alpha-tocopherol form, some supplements contain a mix of tocopherols and tocotrienols.
References: Devore EE, Grodstein F, can Rooij FJA, et al. Dietary antioxidants and long-term risk of dementia. Archives of Neurology, 2010;67:819-825. Mangialasche F, Kivipelto M, Mecocci P, et al. High plasma levels of vitamin E forms and reduced Alzheimer’s disease risk in advanced age. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, 2010;20:1029-1037.