Do Vitamin E Supplements Work for Alzheimer’s Dementia?

Alzheimer’s disease is a type of dementia. The disease causes a gradual, progressive decline in cognition (i.e. capacity to think) and behavior. Alzheimer’s also causes death. That is, patients with severe Alzheimer’s are unable to care for themselves, and, so, die from complications like pneumonia, sepsis, suffocation and trauma.

The signs & symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease are numerous. Common signs & symptoms¬†are memory loss, loss of speech, disorientation, depression, hallucinations & repetitive mannerisms.

The cause of Alzheimer’s disease is poorly understood. Current research suggests Alzheimer’s occurs when specific brain cells die. Inflammation-causing plaques, which are called “Beta Amyloid Plaques” and excessive glutamate, a type of amino acid, may play a role in killing brain cells.

Women are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s. Other risk factors are: history of head injury, family history and old age.

Do vitamin E supplements work for Alzheimer’s?

Vitamin E is an anti-oxidant. So, theoretically, it can reduce the inflammation and cell damage caused by Beta Amyloid Plaques. However, in recent years, many studies (1) have found that vitamin E supplements do not improve or stabilize the signs & symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.

In fact, some studies (2) argue that vitamin E supplementation (dosage: 400 IU/day) increases your risk of prostate cancer in some men.

Pharmacist’s Tip: Medications like Aricept (Donepezil) & Ebixa (Memantine) can stabilize the signs & symptoms Alzheimer’s. You must try these medications for at least 8-10 weeks before seeing their optimal effects, however. Sadly, no medication will cure or improve the signs & symptoms of Alzheimer’s.

Works Cited

  1. Isaac MG, Quinn R, Tabet N. Vitamin E for Alzheimer’s disease and mild cognitive impairment. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2008 Jul 16;(3):CD002854.
  2. Klein EA, Thompson IM Jr, Tangen CM, Crowley JJ, Lucia MS, Goodman PJ, Minasian LM, et al. Vitamin E and the risk of prostate cancer: the Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial (SELECT). JAMA. 2011 Oct 12;306(14):1549-56.

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