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Vitamin E Helps AD Patients Function Better

New research from the faculty of Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City working with Veterans Administration Medical Centers suggests that alpha tocepherol, fat-soluble Vitamin E and antioxidant, may slow functional decline in patients with mild-to-moderate Alzheimer's disease and decrease caregiver burden. The study is published online first in the January 1st 2014 issue of the  Journal of the American Medical Association.

A release from Mount Sinai notes that difficulty with activities of daily living (problems with shopping, preparing meals, planning, and traveling) often trouble Alzheimer's patients, which is estimated to affect as many as 5.1 million Americans. These issues are among the most taxing burdens of the disease for caregivers, which total about 5.4 million family members and friends. Although the research did not show any added benefit from Vitamin E for memory and cognitive testing, improving “ADLS” is still very valuable.

The release quotes Mary Sano, PhD, trial co-investigator, as saying, "Since the cholinesterase inhibitors [galantamine, donepezil, rivastigmine], we have had very little to offer patients with mild-to-moderate dementia. This trial showed that vitamin E delays progression of functional decline by 19% per year, which translates into 6.2 months benefit over placebo."

The finding is important because vitamin E is easy to purchase at local drugstores and it is also inexpensive. The clinical trial investigators believe it can be recommended as a treatment strategy, based on the double-blind randomized controlled trial.

The Veteran's Administration Cooperative Randomized Trial of Vitamin E and memantine in Alzheimer's Disease (TEAM-AD examined the effects of vitamin E 2,000 IU/d, 20 mg/d of memantine, the combination, or placebo on Alzheimer's Disease Cooperative Study/Activities of Daily Living (ADCS-ADL) Inventory Score. Cognitive, neuropsychiatric, functional, and caregiver measures were secondary outcomes. A group of 613 patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease were in the study, which was launched in August 2007 and finished in September 2012 at 14 Veterans Affairs Medical Centers.

Dr. Sano previously led a study on vitamin E in patients with moderately severe Alzheimer's disease. She found that the vitamin slowed disease progression in this group of patients as well.

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