Volume 3, Issue 8
February 25, 2010
This common, inexpensive vitamin slows Alzheimer's by 52%
Treating patients with Alzheimer's disease is difficult. For one thing, the nature of the disease is variable. Some patients will respond to a particular treatment, whereas others will not. And there's no way to determine what the response will be other than to try the treatment.
So I'm constantly on the lookout for potentially effective treatments. And the more inexpensive and safe they are, the better. One treatment that's effective, inexpensive, and safe is vitamin E. A study performed by the Department of Neurology at Columbia University proves vitamin E can have a dramatic effect on Alzheimer's disease.
Why did the researchers decide to study vitamin E in the first place? There's evidence in the medical literature that certain vitamins can slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease. The ones that protect against free radical damage to nerve cells work the best. So to test the vitamin, they looked at 341 patients with moderately severe Alzheimer's, and split them into four groups.
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The researchers gave the first group the medication selegiline. Studies show that selegiline slows down the progression of Parkinson's disease. It also prevents the tremors that often occur as people get into their late 70s and 80s. They gave the second group 2,000 units of vitamin E in the form of alpha-tocopherol. The third group took both the vitamin E and the selegiline. And the fourth group took a placebo.
The researchers followed the four groups for two years. They were looking for how long it took these patients to lose the ability to perform basic activities of daily living, to become institutionalized, to become severely demented, or to die. Here's what they found.
The group on vitamin E alone did the best. The average time until any of the above happened in this group was 670 days. The selegiline group was right behind at 655 days. The placebo group progressed in the average time of 440 days. When you do the math, you discover that taking vitamin E for this short period of time slowed down the progression of Alzheimer's disease an amazing 52%!
Why was vitamin E so successful? It's a fat-soluble antioxidant nutrient. Fat is the primary component of brain tissue. So this vitamin would stand to be particularly effective.
But what about the group that took selegiline and vitamin E? The researchers found that there was no additional protection. This is probably because both selegiline and vitamin E work in the same way. Also remember that this study was done on patients whose condition was already moderately severe.
The odds are good that if they had given the vitamin E at an earlier stage, the results would have been even more impressive.
If you know of anyone who has dementia that may be Alzheimer's, tell them to immediately start taking 2,000 units of a good quality vitamin E. This is a completely safe dose. It's also very inexpensive. And it may just delay the disease from progressing for a long time.
Finding your Real Cures,
Frank Shallenberger, MD
REF: Sano, M., C. Ernesto, R.G. Thomas, M.R. Klauber, et al. "A controlled trial of selegiline, alpha-tocopherol, or both as treatment for Alzheimer's disease," The Alzheimer's Disease Cooperative Study, N Engl J Med., 1997 April 24;336(17):1216-22.
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