High Blood Levels of Vitamin E Reduces Risk of Alzheimer's, Swedish Study Finds
High levels of several vitamin E components in the blood are associated with a decreased risk for Alzheimer's disease (AD) in advanced age, suggesting that vitamin E may help prevent cognitive deterioration in elderly people. This
is the conclusion reached in a Swedish study published in the July 2010 issue of the Journal
of Alzheimer's Disease.
"Vitamin E is a family of eight natural components, but most studies related to Alzheimer's disease investigate only one of these components, tocopherol," explained the research team.
"We hypothesized that all the vitamin E family members could be important in protecting against Alzheimer's Disease. If confirmed, this result has implications for both individuals and society, as 70 percent
of all dementia cases in the general population occur in people over
75 years of age, and the study suggests a protective effect of
vitamin E against Alzheimer's Disease in individuals aged 80
The study was conducted at the Aging Research Center (ARC), Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden, in collaboration with the
Institute of Gerontology and Geriatrics, University of Perugia, Italy.
The study included a sample of 232 participants from the
Kungsholmen Project, a population-based longitudinal study
on aging and dementia in Stockholm (Kungsholmen parish).
All participants were aged 80+ years and were dementia-free at the beginning of the study (baseline). After 6-years of follow-up, 57
Alzheimer's Disease cases were identified.
The blood levels of all eight natural vitamin E components were measured at the beginning of the study. Subjects with higher blood
levels (highest tertile) were compared with subjects who had lower blood levels (lowest tertile) to verify whether these two groups
developed dementia at different rates. The study found that subjects with higher blood levels of all the vitamin E complex forms had a
reduced risk of developing Alzheimer's Disease, compared to
subjects with lower levels. After adjusting for various confounders,
the risk was reduced by 45-54%, depending on the vitamin E component.
The researchers note that the protective effect of vitamin E seems
to be related to the combination of the different forms. Another
recent study indicated that supplements containing high doses of
the E vitamin form ±-tocopherol may increase mortality, emphasizing that such dietary supplements, if not used in a balanced way, may
be more harmful than previously thought.
"Elderly people as a group are large consumers of vitamin E supplements, which usually contain only ±-tocopherol, and this
often at high doses," said the researchers. "Our findings need to be confirmed by other studies, but they open up for the possibility that
the balanced presence of different vitamin E forms can have an important neuroprotective effect."
High plasma levels of vitamin E forms and reduced Alzheimer's
disease risk in advanced age. Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, 2010;