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Vitamin E Tocopherols And Tocotrienols Protective Against Dementia...

Lee Swanson Research Update
More Vitamin E Linked to Better Mental Function
January 2012

People with decreased mental function and Alzheimer’s disease are more likely to have low blood levels of vitamin E tocopherols and tocotrienols, suggest new findings from an international team of researchers.

Alzheimer patients were 85% less likely to have the highest levels of vitamin E, compared to people with normal function, researchers from six European countries report in Neurobiology of Aging.

In addition, people with mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s were over 90% less likely to have the highest levels of vitamin E in the tocotrienol form, added the researchers, led by Francesca Mangialasche from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden.

"The present study shows that plasma concentrations of different vitamin E forms are related to the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease and mild cognitive impairment in elderly subjects," they wrote.

"The increasing evidence about vitamin E family neuroprotective properties warrants further investigation of their role in age-related cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease, to better define the composition of vitamin E supplements that can be tested in the prevention/treatment of Alzheimer’s disease."

Dr. Mangialasche and her co-workers also noted that analysis of vitamin E forms in the blood may help to identify elderly people who could benefit from vitamin E supplementation.

There are eight forms of vitamin E: four tocopherols (alpha, beta, gamma, delta) and four tocotrienols (alpha, beta, gamma, delta). Alpha-tocopherol is the main source found in supplements and in the European diet, while gamma-tocopherol is the most common form in the American diet.

The build-up of plaque from beta-amyloid deposits is associated with an increase in brain cell damage and death from oxidative stress. Wasting in the brain, or atrophy, is a common symptom of mild cognitive impairment, and can be an early warning sign of dementia.

Vitamin E, an antioxidant, has been proposed to offer a potential nutritional approach to reduce the risk of such impairment. Indeed,[b] a randomized, placebo-controlled trial reported a beneficial effect of alpha-tocopherol (2,000 IU total per day) in Alzheimer’s patients [/b](New England Journal of Medicine 336:1216-1222, 1997).

Alpha-tocopherol is the only form being tested in such trials, however, and the new study is said to be the first to evaluate all the forms of vitamin E in relation to Alzheimer’s disease and mild cognitive impairment.

The European researchers analyzed data from 168 Alzheimer patients, 166 people with mild cognitive impairment and 187 people with normal cognitive function.

The data indicated that people with Alzheimer’s disease and mild cognitive impairment had lower blood levels of total tocopherols, total tocotrienols and total vitamin E.

The researchers calculated that people with both forms of cognitive decline were 85% less likely to have the highest average levels of total tocopherols and total vitamin E. In addition, they were 92% and 94%, respectively, less likely to have the highest average levels of total tocotrienols.

Dr. Mangialasche and her co-workers added that subjects with Alzheimer’s disease and mild cognitive impairment displayed higher levels of vitamin E damage markers compared to the cognitively normal group of subjects. This result suggested a direct link between oxidative stress in early Alzheimer’s onset and low levels of vitamin E.

Neurobiology of Aging; Published online ahead of print.

Conceptualclarity : Indeed, it is true that Vitamin E has been found to be powerfully beneficial for serious cardiovascular and cognitive conditions at much higher levels than are commonly recommended. However, alpha tocopherol should not be the only form of Vitamin E in supplementation. Alpha tocopherol depletes gamma tocopherol, which has also found to be very valuable. Following the Life Extension Foundation's recommendations, one should balance 400 IU of alpha tocopherol with at least 200mg gamma tocopherol. Maybe a ratio higher in gamma tocopherol would be desirable. Many studies that have found Vitamin E ineffective have probably used overly low doses, and the studies that have produced negative results with Vitamin E are probably attributable to gamma tocopherol depletion from using only the alpha tocopherol form.
I found this to be very interesting having recently lost a family member to Alzeheimers. I never knew anything about the vitamin E research.

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