A study published last week in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) highlights a clinical trial in which participants with mild to moderate cognitive impairment who take vitamin E and memantine had slower functional decline than those who received a placebo.
Memantine is a popular drug known by the trade name Namenda that has been used for years to help those in the middle or later stages of Alzheimer's Disease. Vitamin E has long been associated in the supplements world with boosting brain health.
According to various reports on the study, the (mostly) men who took Vitamin E only or both pills saw, on average and annually, saw a slower decline in activities of daily living than those who took Namenda with a placebo supplement. The strongest cognitive benefit, however, came from those who took only Vitamin E, which made the study difficult for some to interpret.
This is believed to be one of the first studies targeting people in earlier stages of Alzheimer's. Vitamin E, also called alpha tocopherol, previously was studied only in those with more severe symptoms. It took place over a two- to three-year trial.
Before running out to your local drug or health foods store, remember the elderly, especially those with a memory impairment, should not take vitamin E or another other supplement without first consulting their health care provider. Though readily available, vitamins and other supplements can interfere with other pharmaceuticals, such as those used to treat depression or thin blood. High doses of Vitamin E also are linked to increased risks of death and especially for those with cardiovascular disease.
The national Alzheimer's Association issued a statement saying though the results were somewhat encouraging, much more study is needed before we an safely say adding vitamin E can help reduce the functional decline in those afflicted with the disease.