Vitamin E Could Slow Alzheimer’s Progression in Patients

The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) released a study demonstrating vitamin E may help slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease in patients. Specifically, the study revealed that Alzheimer’s patients who took vitamin E showed a slower functional decline than patients who took a placebo.

According to the study, 613 participants with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s were treated, over the course of approximately five years, with either: (1) vitamin E; (2) memantine (a drug used to treat moderate to severe Alzheimer’s disease, but does not work for all patients); (3) both vitamin E and memantine; or (4) a placebo. Follow up testing and observations were measured by Alzheimer’s Disease Cooperative Study’s Activities of Daily Living scores over an average of 2.3 years. Results demonstrated that patients who took vitamin E as their treatment saw their disease progression decline 3.15 units less than the placebo group in patient functionality. According to JAMA, 3.15 units could be the difference between the “ability to dress or bathe oneself independently” or not. Although functional benefits were seen with the use of vitamin E, it is important to note that no cognitive benefits were observed between vitamin E takers and the placebo group.

Although participants who took only vitamin E showed better functional ability, participants who took both vitamin E and memantine did not see the same results. In fact, the results in disease progression were similar for both the memantine group and the memantine plus vitamin E group: approximately 1.98 units less than the placebo group.

Maria Carrillo, an Alzheimer’s Association vice president, noted, “This is a well done study by a solid research group,” CNN reports. Carrillo further stated, “The results are positive enough to warrant more research to replicate and confirm these findings, but should not change current medical practice. No one should take vitamin E for Alzheimer’s except under the supervision of a physician.”

However, Dr. Scott Small, the director of Columbia University Medical Center’s Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, believes “clinicians will now start considering vitamin E,” reports CNN. “In the future there will be very little discussion when we have a clearer, yes-or-no answer,” Dr. Small stated.

According to the study’s researchers, the benefit of lowering patients’ functional decline can also help alleviate the excessive burden on caregivers, which is another major issue surrounding Alzheimer’s disease.