Vitamin E may slow progression of Alzheimer's disease

Developing a way to slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease is among the biggest challenges facing the senior health community. While memory care has shown to be somewhat effective, there have been few other options. However, a new study from the the Department of Veterans Affairs suggests that taking vitamin E might help older adults with dementia slow the rate of cognitive decline, according to results published recently by the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The study was based on analysis of more than 600 adults with an average age of 79. Scientists found that while high doses of the vitamin had no impact on the participants' thinking abilities, it did help them preserve the ability to perform certain activities of daily living. After two years, subjects who took vitamin E had about a 19 percent slower rate of decline compared to a group that took a placebo. While it is not a cure, the results are encouraging.

"This is truly a breakthrough paper and constitutes what we have been working toward for nearly three decades: the first truly disease-modifying intervention for Alzheimer's," Dr. Sam Gandy, of Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, told The Associated Press. "I am very enthusiastic about the results."

In addition to potentially slowing the progression of Alzheimer's disease, vitamin E offers seniors a number of other healthy aging benefits, according to the National Institutes of Health. Most notably, the vitamin's antioxidant properties have been tied to helping older adults reduce their risk of developing cancer. Additionally, researchers have found that vitamin E can help older adults maintain their eyesight by preventing the development of age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.