Does vitamin E assist in slowing down cognitive decline?

No treatment will delay, prevent or cure Alzheimer’s disease.

Vitamin E is an antioxidant. Antioxidants may protect brain cells and other body tissues from certain kinds of chemical wear and tear. In the January issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers announced results of the Mount Sinai’s Icahn School of Medicine TEAM-AD VA Cooperative Randomized Trial of vitamin E and memantine (Namenda) for Alzheimer’s disease.

The results summarized that vitamin E shows promise in delaying functional decline by up to 19 percent per year in people with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s.

Lead study author Dr. Mary Sano, professor of psychiatry at Mount Sinai, reported that the results suggest this low-cost treatment should be considered “across a broad range of patients with Alzheimer’s. Some benefits may be seen even in mild patients.

Functional decline includes problems with daily activities, such as shopping, preparing meals, bathing, eating, planning and traveling.

While this one study may be encouraging, researchers outside the study were cautionary, and recommended that individuals refrain from starting to take high doses of vitamin E to stave off Alzheimer’s, or incorporate vitamin E into a routine treatment of the disease. The high doses of the vitamin (2000 IU taken in the study) can negatively interact with other medications, including those prescribed to keep blood from clotting or to lower cholesterol.

Researchers additionally note that women and minority groups were underrepresented in this study, the puzzling interaction with memantine and that the secondary outcomes of the study didn’t support the primary outcomes.

Researchers have also found evidence in other studies that vitamin E in high doses could slightly increase the risk of death, especially for those individuals with coronary heart disease.

The 2014 study results are encouraging. However, more research is needed in using vitamin E in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.

Questions about Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia disorder? Contact Dana Territo, the Memory Whisperer, Director of Services at Alzheimer’s Services of the Capital Area, (225) 334-7494, advice@alzbr.org, or visit the organization at 3772 North Blvd., Baton Rouge.