Preventing Alzheimer's Disease: The Importance of Vitamin E

Vitamin E - Better Than the Alzheimer's Drug
The use of antioxidants to protect against free radicals as a therapy for Alzheimer's disease has been extensively evaluated over the past decade. Vitamin E is perhaps the most studied because of its powerful antioxidant activity and its high fat solubility. The brain is more than 60 percent fat, and fat is at highest risk for free radical damage.

A landmark study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1997. In this study, a total of 341 patients with Alzheimer's disease of moderate severity were divided into four groups. The first group received 10 milligrams of selegiline, a monoamine oxidase inhibitor, daily; the second group was given 2,000 I.U. of vitamin E daily; the third group was given both selegiline and vitamin E daily and the fourth group was given a placebo. The purpose of the study was to determine whether any of these therapies could slow down the progress of the disease so that patients would not deteriorate as rapidly. After two years, the researchers reported that the risk of reaching the most severe stage of Alzheimer's disease was 53 percent lower in the group taking vitamin E alone, 43 percent lower in the drug group, and 31 percent lower in the combination group than in the group taking the placebo. Of all these treatments, vitamin E alone worked the best.

Based on the growing number of studies that show vitamin E and other antioxidants can protect against so-called brain aging, vitamin E may prove to be useful in delaying the onset of Alzheimer's disease, or in some cases, even preventing it from occurring in the first place by protecting brain tissue against oxidative damage.

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