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Vitamin E -  Good or Bad (Again)

Jan 05, 2014

A recent large study completed at 17 VA hospials has shown that 2000 IU of Vitamin E slows cognitive decline and decreases caregiver burden in patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer's Disease. The study evaluated 561 pts. in 4 groups, (140 with Vit E only, 142 with memantine (Namenda), 139 with Namenda and Vit E, and 140 with placebo) There was a slight increase in infections in the Namenda and Vit E plus Namenda group. The conclusion of the study suggested 2000 IU of Vitamin E slowed cognitive decline and decreased caregiver burden during a two year follow-up in mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease.

There have been previous studies which suggested no improvement with high dose Vit E in Alzheimer's and recent studies which suggest an increase in prostate cancer, bleeding disorders and death risk with Vit E supplementation. The SELECT trial recently suggested that there is an increased risk of prostate cancer in men who took 400 IU of Vit E a day. Two trials have also suggested an increased risk of bleeding into the brain with Vit E. There has been a detailed review of two studies (meta-analysis) that suggested an increased risk of death with Vit E supplements.

The jury is still out, but there are both pros and cons with the use of Vit E supplements. I suggest a conservative approach.

Citations:  1) Effect of Vitamin E and Memantine on Fuctional Decline in Alzheimer's Disease: The TEAM-AD VA Cooperative Randomized Trial Dysken MD et. al. JAMA 2014;311(1):33-44.

                 2) Office of Dietary Supplements, NIH, Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Vitamin E. Document citations [51][24][52][29][28][30][34][45][46][54]