Vitamin E May Up Alzheimer's Survival
Study Shows High Doses of Vitamin E May Lower Death Rate for Alzheimer's Patients
WebMD News Archive
April 15, 2008 -- Vitamin E may help patients with Alzheimer's live longer, and the
benefit may be even greater for those who take the supplements along with an
anti-dementia drug, a new study
Many have questioned whether antioxidants, including vitamin E, can protect
brain cells and thwart Alzheimer's-related memory loss. Research has previously
demonstrated that vitamin E can slow the progression of moderate to severe
The new findings, presented at the 60th annual meeting of the American
Academy of Neurology in Chicago, suggest that the benefits of vitamin E for
Alzheimer's may be greater than once thought.
"We've been able to show that vitamin E appears to increase the survival
time of Alzheimer's patients," researcher Valory Pavlik, PhD, with Baylor
College of Medicine's Alzheimer's Disease and Memory Disorders Center, says in
a news release. "This is particularly important because recent studies in
heart disease patients have
questioned whether vitamin E is beneficial for survival."
Pavlik's study involved 847 Alzheimer's patients, mostly female, who
averaged about 73 and a half years old at their first research visit. A
follow-up visit showed that most patients took vitamin E along with a
cholinesterase inhibitor, a class of anti-dementia medicine that inhibits the
breakdown of acetylcholine, a chemical messenger in the brain that is thought
to play a key role in learning and remembering. Among the remaining patients,
about 15% did not take a cholinesterase inhibitor, and fewer than 10% took
vitamin E alone.
After a median of five years of follow-up, Pavlik's analysis showed that
those who took 2,000 international units (IU) of vitamin E daily -- with or
without an anti-dementia drug -- were 26% less likely to die than those who did
not during the study period (1990-2004).
"The study found vitamin E plus a cholinesterase inhibitor may be more
beneficial than taking either agent alone," says Pavlik.
Those who took an anti-dementia drug alone had no improved survival benefit.
Pavlik acknowledges that more research needs to be done.
The twice-a-day dose of 1,000 IU of vitamin E taken by the study patients
greatly exceeds the dose recommended as safe for the general