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Nutrient - Vitamin E shows brain benefits

By Holly Taylor BSc(Hons) DipCNM MBANT NTCC

According to new data, published in the Archives of Neurology, people who consume the highest average intakes of vitamin E are 25% less likely to develop dementia than people with the lowest average intakes.

Found in high concentrations in cold pressed oils, nuts, seeds and their butters, vitamin E is a powerful, fat-soluble antioxidant. Its benefits for dementia protection are thought to be related to its ability to mop up the free radicals in the brain.

As a very active tissue, the brain is very vulnerable to oxidative damage and accumulation of such damage over a lifetime may contribute to dementia. Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia in the UK, is associated with the build up of beta-amyloid proteins within the brain. This leads to an inflammatory reaction that produces high levels of free radicals and increases the potential for brain cell damage.

During the study, scientists asked over 5,000 people aged 55 plus, to fill in a questionnaire and meal-based checklist, in order to monitor their intake of key antioxidant nutrients, including vitamin E. The participants were followed for about 10 years, during which 465 people developed dementia.

When the scientists analysed the data, they found that people with an average intake of 18.5 milligrams of vitamin E per day were 25% less likely to develop dementia than the people with an average of 9 milligrams per day. These findings support other recent research, carried out in Sweden, which reported that a combination of different vitamin E forms could help prevent cognitive deterioration in advanced age. 

Article References

EE Devore et al (2010) Dietary antioxidants and long-term risk of dementia. Arch Neurol. 67(7):819-25.

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