Alzheimer's DementiaElderlyVitamins

Negative news on vitamin E supplements and memory loss

“Several studies have pointed to vitamin E as possibly protective against … dementia,” according to Dr. Neil Buckholtz who is head of the Dementias of Aging Branch at the National Institute on Aging. “The only way this association can really be tested is through clinical studies and trials.”

Now, one of those studies is published.

First the details.

  • The Women’s Health Study included more than 6000 elderly women who were monitored for about 9 years.
  • The women were randomly assigned to Vitamin E supplementation (600 IU [International Units of alpha-tocopherol acetate]) on alternate days or no treatment.
  • The researchers and women did not know their treatment assignment.
  • General cognition (knowledge), verbal memory, and category fluency (recitation of examples of a given category) were evaluated at 2-year intervals.

And the results.

  • Long-term use of vitamin E supplements did not provide cognitive benefits among generally healthy older women.

The bottom line?
Professor David Ames who is Editor-in-Chief of International Psychogeriatrics and Dr. Craig Ritchie at the Royal Free and University College Medical School in London just published a editorial on research in the fields of anti-oxidants, vitamin E, and dementia. Here’s their view.

“There is some theoretical biological and epidemiological evidence to suggest that antioxidants might retard the emergence and perhaps the progression of AD [Alzheimer’s disease]. Trial evidence for vitamin E, the most widely advocated antioxidant therapy, is inadequate for firm conclusions to be drawn, but so far indicates dubious efficacy for the treatment of AD and absolutely no efficacy in the prevention of conversion from MCI [mild cognitive impairment] to symptomatic AD, despite the fact that one would expect it to be of greater use at an early rather than late stage of the illness before profound tissue damage has already occurred.”

5/2/07 17:55 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.