An increased intake of vitamin E supplements may improve the survival of people suffering from Alzheimer's disease, researchers report.
Regular supplementation with vitamin E was associated with 26 per cent lower mortality rates, according to data obtained from 847 people with Alzheimer's disease presented at the American Academy of Neurology 60th Anniversary Annual Meeting in Chicago.
"Vitamin E has previously been shown to delay the progression of moderately severe Alzheimer's disease. Now, we've been able to show that vitamin E appears to increase the survival time of Alzheimer's patients as well," said lead author Valory Pavlik, PhD., from Baylor College of Medicine
"This is particularly important because recent studies in heart disease patients have questioned whether vitamin E is beneficial for survival."
Talking to NutraIngredients.com, Dr. Pavlik indicated that the results of the study, a long-term follow-up of an Alzheimer's disease patient cohort, are in-line with a randomised, placebo-controlled trial reported in the New England Journal of Medicine (1997, Vol. 336, pp. 1216-22), which showed a beneficial effect of vitamin E (2000 IU total per day) in Alzheimer patients.
"We are not aware of any other studies that have examined vitamin E just in relation to all-cause mortality in Alzheimer's disease patients," said Dr. Pavlik.
Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the most common form of dementia and currently affects over 13 million people worldwide. The direct and indirect cost of Alzheimer care is over $100 bn (€ 81 bn) in the US, while direct costs in the UK are estimated at £15 bn (€ 22 bn).
Pavlik and co-workers followed 847 people with Alzheimer's disease (average age 73.5, 67 per cent female) for an average of 4.9 years. The standard recommendation for the patients was to consume 2000 IU of vitamin E daily from commercially available supplements
"The daily amount of vitamin E taken by patients in this study was much higher than what is currently recommended for the general population," said Pavlik.
At the end of the study, the researchers report that approximately 66 per cent of subjects consumed the recommended daily dose of vitamin E twice a day along with an Alzheimer's drug (a cholinesterase inhibitor). Less than 10 per cent of the group took vitamin E alone, while about 15 per cent consumed no vitamin E.
Consumption of the vitamin, with or without a cholinesterase inhibitor, was associated with a 26 per cent reduction in all-cause mortality that those who didn't take vitamin E, reported Pavlik and co-workers.
In addition, the study found vitamin E plus a cholinesterase inhibitor may be more beneficial than taking either agent alone. "Our findings show that people who took a cholinesterase inhibitor without vitamin E did not have a survival benefit," said Pavlik. "More research needs to be done to determine why this may be the case."
More to follow
Dr. Pavlik confirmed that the area of study was ongoing. "The analysis we reported at AAN included observations of outcomes through December 2004," he said. "We plan to update the analysis by examining outcomes through 2006."
The data has not been published in a peer-review journal but Dr. Pavlik confirmed that preparation of a manuscript is in progress. NutraIngredients.com has not seen the full data.
The researchers acknowledge financial support from various including the National Alzheimer's Association, the National Institutes of Health, and the Mitchell Foundation.
Source: American Academy of Neurology 60th Anniversary Annual Meeting
15 April 2008, Poster Sessions III: Aging and Dementia: Clinical II
[P03.076] Vitamin E Use Is Associated with Improved Survival in an AD Cohort
Authors: V. Pavlik, R. Doody, S. Rountree, E. Darby