Vitamin E Slows Down Dementia Decline for Some Patients

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There is ongoing debate about the benefits of taking vitamins. Some recent studies suggest oral supplements do little to improve our health, as we get most needed vitamins and minerals from our diet. But a study just published last week in “The Journal of the American Medical Association” (JAMA) found encouraging results for Alzheimer’s patients from taking vitamin E. A controversial topic, this report follows previous research that warned high doses of E could be dangerous.

The research outlined in JAMA indicated that although the benefits for Alzheimer’s patients were not great, they were notable for those in the mild to moderate stages of the disease. The study, conducted over a two-year trial involving very high doses of vitamin E, demonstrated a slower decline in patients’ function by about six months. This might mean a patient would be able to maintain activities of daily living, like bathing and making meals themselves for a longer time frame.

The study authors were very clear about the vitamin not decreasing or delaying cognitive functioning or memory loss. But postponing the decline of self-care might dramatically improve Alzheimer’s patients’ quality of life. One trial marker was that compared to those in the study who didn’t take vitamin E, the active participants needed two hours less of their caregivers’ time.

The Alzheimer’s patients in the study were taking medications for their disease in addition to the vitamin. Other study patients took medicine and a placebo. Researchers cautioned the high doses of vitamin E used in this study (2000 I.U.s), although found to be safe in this carefully monitored situation, should not be taken by patients without their doctors’ knowledge and care.

While not a huge gain in the struggle to learn more about the causes and treatment of dementia, the study did offer hope for a significant number of people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.

If you have questions about this study or taking vitamin E, it’s important to discuss your concerns with your doctor.

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