Many years ago, doctors diagnosed true Alzheimer's disease only in young seniors — those in their 50s and 60s. They considered memory loss in older seniors a natural part of the aging process. It was simple dementia. But the more we learn about this illness, the more we realize there are a lot of people over the age of 80 who develop true Alzheimer's. But a recent study found that a simple and very common vitamin can go a long way toward preventing Alzheimer's in those over 80.
In the study, Swedish researchers looked at 232 patients who were all 80 years of age or older. All of the patients were free from any signs of dementia at the start of the study. The fact that all of these patients were free of dementia shows you this disease isn't a normal part of aging.
The researchers followed these patients for six years. During those six years, the researchers regularly evaluated each patient's vitamin E level and their dementia. They wanted to see if there was a correlation between the vitamin and Alzheimer's development.
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At the start of the study, the researchers measured the patients' levels of all eight forms of vitamin E (alpha-, beta-, gamma, and delta-tocopherol; alpha-, beta-, gamma-, and delta-tocotrienol). Then they evaluated the patients every year for any signs of Alzheimer's. They took the measurements using the Katz index, which measures activities of daily living, and the mini-mental status exam, which measures cognitive function. Both of these are standards tests for evaluating Alzheimer's risk.
At the end of the six years, the researchers found that "those with the highest levels of total vitamin-E levels had a 45% reduced risk of developing Alzheimer's." That was compared to those patients with the lowest levels of vitamin E.
What was interesting about this study was that the best results came from the complete vitamin, not from any of the various forms. All of the forms performed well, but none of the individual forms offered superior protection over another. Beta-tocopherol did have a small edge over the others, but it wasn't a significant edge.
This last point is surprising. In other health challenges, such as high cholesterol, high triglycerides, and low CoQ10 levels, we know that delta tocotrienols have a significant advantage over the other forms of vitamin E. And these are all issues that lead to diminished cognitive function. We also know that delta tocotrienols protect the brain against stroke damage. And other studies show that delta tocotrienols can slow down the progression of Alzheimer's by limiting glutamate-induced toxicity.
But for Alzheimer's prevention in the over-80 group, it looks like the complete vitamin E is better. So if you're over 80, consider taking a full-spectrum vitamin E supplement. You can find these online and at most health food stores. If you're under 80 years old and struggle with high cholesterol and high triglycerides, you can use Delta Tocotrienols
to reduce your risk of both heart and brain problems.
Your insider for better health,
J Alzheimers Dis.2010;20(4):1029-3