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Vitamin E Treatments in Alzheimer's


Updated: November 13, 2005

How Research into Vitamin E shows promise

In Alzheimer's, as in aging generally, there is an increase in free radical formation. Vitamin E is an antioxidant thought to protect neurons by reducing free radical formation and preventing cell injury. Free radicals occur as a result of a normal cell function called 'oxidative metabolism'. Free radicals are highly reactive. They attack other cells, damage cell walls, DNA, as well as metabolic processes.

Significant Research into Vitamin E
Research from the Alzheimer's Cooperative Society reported in 1997 their findings on the effectiveness of vitamin E and Selegiline. Focusing on functional loss, the results suggested both vitamin E and Selegiline delayed nursing home placement, death and disability but not cognitive functions (as scored in memory and thinking tests). The researchers found no differences between combined use of vitamin E and Selegiline or from groups of participants receiving the individual substances. Dosages used in the study were 10 mg of selegiline once daily and/or 1,000 IU of vitamin E twice daily.


  • Whilst this study is of great interest research is required that replicates their findings.

  • Further research is required that determines the effectiveness of treatment with these agents, in what combination and at what point in the different stages of Alzheimer's.

  • Appropriate therapeutic dosages of vitamin E needs to be established.

  • Side effects are possible with any drug. Selegiline in higher dosages can interact badly with some foods and drugs. People taking drugs like Warfarin should seek the expertise of their doctor. In general vitamin E is tolerated by most people without any problems.

  • Costs of the two agents mean that at the present time, and unless Selegiline is found to be a superior and more effective treatment, that Vitamin E is the agent of choice as it is much less expensive.

  • A review of the research, the Cochrane review has said that once adjustments are made for the study subjects (there were concerns that the study subjects were younger and therefore had less coexisting medical problems), that there is little evidence that vitamin E is of much use for people with Alzheimer's disease.
  • It is clear more research is required into the use of vitamin E.

    Updated November 2005

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