In 1997, a large study published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that 2,000 units of daily vitamin E slowed the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. After that, doctors started recommending the supplement for their Alzheimer’s patients.
But in 2005, vitamin E fell out of favor because another study showed that it increased the risk of serious cardiac side effects, and actually increased mortality risk at only 400 daily units.
Now, a study published in the January 1, 2014 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, once again supports the benefits of vitamin E for patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Maurice Dysken of the Minneapolis VA Health Care System and his associates studied 613 veterans with Alzheimer’s disease from 14 hospital centers throughout the United States.
After more than two years of follow-up, they found that patients receiving high doses of vitamin E experienced slower decline in daily functioning compared with those receiving placebo. The effect of the treatment was comparable to about a six-month delay in progression of symptoms.
The vitamin E group did not develop significant cardiac side effects, although there were more infections reported in those taking vitamin E than those taking placebo.
This new study suggests a potential benefit for patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease, but it did not address whether the antioxidant properties of vitamin E might delay the onset of Alzheimer’s in people with mild age-associated memory symptoms.
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