Vitamin E Benefits Alzheimer’s Patients

On Jan. 1, research published by The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) showed Vitamin E to be beneficial to patients in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.  The study included 613 participants and showed a 19 percent delay in the clinical progression of the disease when compared to the placebo group.  Patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease showed a slower functional decline when using Vitamin E supplement dosages of 2000 IU.

The study was conducted by the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Medical Center in conjunction with the Veteran’s Administration.  The double-blind controlled study was administered at 14 Veteran’s Affairs Medical Centers for a period of five years. Participants were given Vitamin E, Memantine, Memantine and Vitamin E or a placebo. The functional decline associated with Alzheimer’s includes daily activities including: preparing meals, shopping and basic care.  Alzheimer’s disease is a type of dementia that effects memory, behavior and thinking processes.

Vitamin E

The research showed no significant benefit for research participants taking Memantine or Memantine with Vitamin E.  Memantine is a medication commonly prescribed for moderate to severe Alzheimer’s disease.  The study showed that compared to Vitamin E, the Alzheimer’s medication Menantine actually increased the rate of infections experienced by patients, while the Vitamin E group showed no adverse reactions.  The use of Vitamin E to treat Alzheimer’s is a significant breakthrough considering the cost to treat the disease is expected to rise to $1.2 Trillion by 2050 according to the Alzheimer’s Association.  Vitamin E by comparison is available over the counter and is far less costly.

This decline also significantly reduced the burden on caregivers by over 2 hours per day.  It is estimated that the toll on caregivers is significant with 17.5 billion hours of unpaid care provided by family members or friends for Alzheimer’s patients.  According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 60 percent of caregivers rate the emotional stress of caring for an Alzheimer’s patient as high or very high.

Research also suggests that Vitamin E is high in antioxidants.  Antioxidants prevent the oxidation that can occur within cells from chemical reactions and free radicals.  Oxidation within the cells can damage or cause the death of the cell.  Oxidation is a natural process that can contribute to the aging process and may be responsible for age related diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease. While this study is significant more research needs to be done.  There are also some patients, such as those with cardiovascular disease, which may be unable to take the high doses suggested by this study.

Alzheimer’s disease affects more than five million Americans.  It is sixth leading cause of death in the United States with deaths from the disease increasing 68 percent since 2000.  While Alzheimer’s disease mainly afflicts people age 65 and older, it is not only an elder disease. There are currently as many as 200,000 people under 65 living with younger-onset Alzheimer’s disease.

Symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease include: Memory loss that is disruptive to daily life, difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, confusion about time or place, challenged problem solving or planning abilities, vision problems or impairment, problems speaking, writing or following a conversation, changes in mood or personality, poor judgment or decision making, withdrawal from social activities.

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