Vitamin E can help people cope with symptoms of Alzheimer's disease, a new study reported. Researchers also found that the treatment reduced burden on caretakers.
Adults require about 15 mg (22.4 IU) of vitamin E per day, according to the Office of Dietary Supplements. The vitamin (alpha tocopherol) is found in vegetable oils like wheat germ, sunflower, and safflower oils.
In the present study, researchers have found that higher levels of the vitamin (2000 IU/d of alpha tocopherol) can help Alzheimer's patients cope with the symptoms of the disease.
For the study, researchers analyzed data obtained from 613 people with mild to moderate AD.
Participants were divided into groups and they either received a daily dose of vitamin E; memantine; combination of vitamin E and the drug, or a placebo, according to BBC.
Memantine belongs to the category of drugs called NMDA receptor antagonists and is used to slow AD progression in patients who are at the advanced stages of the disease. The drug works by decreasing abnormal activity in the brain. However, the drug doesn't cure the condition.
Researchers found that people on vitamin E had lower functional decline when compared with others. They were able to perform daily activities (washing or dressing) better than people on the dummy pill. Also, participants getting the combo treatment were less dependent on caretakers.
"This is a well done study by a solid research group," said Maria Carrillo, vice president of Medical and Scientific Relations at the Alzheimer's Association, in a statement, CNN reported. "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."
The study is published in the journal JAMA.
Alzheimer's disease is an irreversible, progressive brain disease that slowly destroys memory and thinking, according to National Institute on Aging. Latest data from the Alzheimer's Association shows that over 5 million people in the U.S. have AD, a number that is expected to explode to 13. 8 to 16 million people by 2050. There is no cure for the disease.
However, people should consult their doctors before increasing vitamin E levels in the diet as the vitamin is also linked to a higher chance of developing prostate cancer. The risk stays even after people stop taking the supplements.
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