How Vitamin E May Help Alzheimer's Disease

Harold Mandel's picture
Brain neurons

Alzheimer’s disease robs people of their minds. This is a frightening thought. The stressors from fears of Alzheimer's disease are considerable. And the stressors put on family members and other caregivers of people hit with this disease are considerable. Interventions to help slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease are greatly desired. Natural interventions in particular are appreciated in order to avoid possible side effects from too many drugs.

Researchers found that in patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease, use of vitamin E resulted in slower functional decline, reports the Journal of the American Medical Association. A dose of 2000 IU/d of alpha tocopherol, a form of vitamin E, was used and showed significant results in comparison with placebo. There were no significant differences found in the patients receiving the drug memantine alone or in those receiving memantine plus alpha tocopherol.

These findings have suggested there is a benefit of alpha tocopherol for mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease by slowing down functional decline and decreasing the burden of caregivers. There are many other potential natural treatments for Alzheimer's disease, writes EmaxHealth reporter Deborah Mitchell.

Alzheimer's disease affects as many as 5.1 million Americans, reports Mount Sinai Medical Center, in a discussion of this research via Newswise. Alzheimer's patients experience difficulty with activities of daily living. The issues confronted due to this problem are serious burdens of this disease for caregivers, which consists of about 5.4 million family members and friends.

The faculty of Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai working with Veterans Administration Medical Centers has suggested that alpha tocepherol, fat-soluble vitamin E and antioxidant, may slow down functional decline in patients with with mild-to-moderate Alzheimer's disease. Daily activities include considerations of:

1: Shopping

2: Preparing meals


3: Planning

4: Traveling

In this study there was no added benefit seen for memory and cognitive testing with vitamin E.

Mary Sano, PhD, director of research at the James J. Peters Veteran’s Administration Medical Center, Bronx, New York, has said, “Since the cholinesterase inhibitors, galantamine, donepezil, rivastigmine, we have had very little to offer patients with mild-to-moderate dementia.” Dr. Sano went on to say that this research has showed that vitamin E delays progression of functional decline by 19 percent per year. This translates into 6.2 months benefit over placebo.

This is a very significant finding because vitamin E is easy to purchase at local drugstores and it is also very inexpensive The clinical trial researchers believe vitamin E can be recommended as a treatment strategy. In a previous study on vitamin E in patients with moderately severe Alzheimer’s disease, Dr. Sano found that the vitamin slowed disease progression in this group of patients as well.

Kenneth Davis, MD, Chief Executive Officer and President of the Mount Sinai Health System, has been very upbeat about this study. He has said, “This study is the first to show an added benefit for vitamin E in mild-to-moderate disease.” Dr. Davis has gone on to say that now that we have a strong clinical trial which shows that vitamin E slows functional decline and reduces the burdens on caregivers, vitamin E should be suggested for patients with mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s disease. Research which was done by Dr. Davis and his colleagues contributed to the establishment of conventional medical therapies which are used for Alzheimer’s disease.

Caregivers and family members have shared with me the intense emotional pain which is associated with taking care of patients with Alzheimer’s disease. To watch before your eyes a once vibrant, intelligent man or women suddenly begin to degenerate into a debilitated state of being is devastating. While continuing to do research on the exact causes of this illness aimed at prevention, news that vitamin E slows the progression of the disease is encouraging.

I fully endorse the suggestion of Dr. Davis and his colleagues that vitamin E should be suggested for patients with mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s disease. I also encourage everyone to adhere to a nutritious diet and daily exercise while avoiding illicit drugs, smoking and too much alcohol in order to keep your brains as healthy as possible for as long as possible. There are dietary guidelines which appear to help prevent Alzheimer's disease, reports EmaxHealth reporter Teresa Tanoos.

Image courtesy of renjith krishnan/