Alzheimer’s disease is a degenerative disease of the brain which affects your cognitive and functional ability. Although the incidence of this disease has steadily increased in the last several decades, it is a disease which is closely associated with the aging process.
Many people who are over the age of 50 are becoming increasingly worried regarding their risk of developing this rather terrible disease. Currently, there is no known cure for Alzheimer’s disease, although there are drugs that have proven helpful with some of the side effects.
However, some new research has provided some interesting information which may be of great benefit to people over the age of 50. The new study, which looked at 613 patients who were diagnosed with mild-moderate Alzheimer’s disease, randomly assigned them into four groups. Group one received 2,000 IU of vitamin E, group two received a drug, group three received both, and group four were given a placebo pill.
The subjects were evaluated using an Alzheimer’s functional assessment tool, including activities of daily living and various cognitive tests. The study participants were followed for an average of 2.3 years.
The results of this study indicated that the group who only received vitamin E (group one), showed a delay in clinical progression of the disease by approximately 20% compared to the group who received the placebo (group four). This is a very significant finding, considering that group one only received vitamin E!
The participants who received vitamin E also did much better on functional abilities compared with the placebo group. While it was only slightly better, this translates into a better degree of functional independence in the area of activities of daily living. This can help people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease look after themselves better.
The study also indicated that the groups who took the standard drug treatment either alone or with vitamin E did not show any improvements compared with the group who took the placebo!
This study indicates that patients that have mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease may exhibit less of a decrease in their levels of functional ability if they take 1,000IU of vitamin E per day.
This result could indicate that these patients may be able to look after themselves for longer periods of time and require less caregiving or supervision in the earlier stages of the disease relative to others who do not take vitamin E.
So what does this mean to the folks who may be at an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s or who may want to prevent the occurrence of this disease?
At this point, it may be rather premature to recommend high doses of vitamin E to everyone over the age of 60 to prevent the occurrence of Alzheimer’s disease. However, using vitamin E early in the disease process may be quite beneficial to patients who are newly diagnosed.
“Study: Vitamin E May Help Alzheimer’s Patients,” CNN web site;http://thechart.blogs.cnn.com/2013/12/31/study-vitamin-e-may-help-alzheimers-patients/,last accessed Jan. 6, 2014.
Dysken, M., etal.,“Effect of Vitamin E and Memantine on Functional Decline in Alzheimer Disease: The TEAM-AD VA Cooperative Randomized Trial,”JAMA2014;311(1):33-44.