Vitamin E and drugs that reduce inflammation may slow the decline of mental and physical abilities in people with Alzheimer's disease, according to new research from Harvard Medical School.
In this study, 540 people with Alzheimer's were enrolled to determine the effects of vitamin E on this disease. These study participants were divided into four groups: 208 people took vitamin E but no anti-inflammatory medication, 49 took an anti-inflammatory but no vitamin E, 177 took both vitamin E and an anti-inflammatory, and 106 took neither the vitamin nor the drug.
Those assigned to receive vitamin E took a daily dose of between 200 to 2000 units of vitamin E. All participants complete cognitive tests every six months to assess the progression of Alzheimer's disease.
After an average of three years, people taking only vitamin E or only an anti-inflammatory had a modest slowing of decline in cognitive function. Overall, people taking vitamin E with the anti-inflammatory medication saw the greatest slowing of cognitive decline.
The effect of vitamin E and the anti-inflammatory appear to be additive, says one researcher involved in this study.
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble antioxidant vitamin which protects the body against cell damage. Healthy adults are advised to consume 22 units of vitamin E per day from foods like avocado, sunflower seeds, or 33 units per day from vitamin E supplements.
Because recent studies have shown that high doses of vitamin E may actually increase the risk of heart disease in some people, you should consult your doctor before starting a vitamin E supplementation regimen for Alzheimer's disease or any other reason.
This new research was presented at the May 2009 annual general meeting of the American Geriatric Society. For more information about Alzheimer's disease, visit the Alzheimer's Society of Canada.
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