Easy to get if you’re eating the right foods, one simple nutrient could be the key to better brain health – and to slowing down the progression of Alzheimer’s and other degenerative neurological diseases.
Found in sunflower seeds, avocado, and almonds, vitamin E can indirectly boost your levels of DHA-PC, a polyunsaturated fat which can slow down the development of Alzheimer’s, among other neurodegenerative diseases.
Vitamin E And Alzheimer’s Prevention
According to a study published in the journal Nature,
“Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that is characterized by senile plaques, neurofibrillary tangles, synaptic disruption, and neuronal loss. Several studies have demonstrated decreases of docosahexaenoic acid-containing phosphatidylcholines (DHA-PCs) in the AD brain.”(1)
People who are consistently deficient in vitamin E show low levels of a polyunsaturated fat (PUFA) called DHA. Levels can often be 30 percent lower in many individuals than what they need to maintain good brain health.
And the reason for that is because vitamin E helps to ensure that compounds called lyso-pls, essential for carrying DHA to the brain, are made in plentiful supply.
Treating Alzheimer’s Patients With Vitamin E – Risks And Benefits
There is a bit of controversy when it comes to using vitamin E as a treatment or preventative measure for Alzheimer’s disease. While US experts say it should be offered to patients, other experts fear that the “megadoses” of the vitamin required to have a therapeutic effect may do more harm than good.(2)
A clinical trial revealed that individuals with Alzheimer’s who took high “megadoses” of vitamin E were able to maintain their independence longer, and engage in everyday activities like washing, shopping, and cooking.
However, the trial participants ultimately took nearly twice as much as the upper ‘safe’ limit of vitamin E, which is between 700 and 800 mg per day.
“This study does not report negative side effects from vitamin E treatment, but concerns have been raised from previous studies that high doses of vitamin E could have health risks,” said Dr. Eric Karran, director of research at Alzheimer’s Research UK(3).
More Research Needed
With experts torn on the risks versus the benefits of vitamin E “megadoses” as a potential treatment for Alzheimer’s, it’s clear that more research is needed in order for doctors and patients to make an informed decision about pursuing this potential treatment.
But researchers are hopeful that any potential treatment for Alzheimer’s disease, even ones that may not turn out to be viable, is a step forward in Alzheimer’s research.
“The preclinical evidence supporting the use of antioxidants to prevent or slow (Alzheimer’s Disease) is strong,” says one review in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition(4).
“There is clear evidence for increased oxidative damage in the brain of AD patients and numerous potential sources of excess free radicals that may contribute to this damage. Experiments performed in cell culture and in animals indicate that vitamin E and other antioxidants can prevent free radical-mediated cell death and diminish cognitive deterioration.”