New York: Older adults who get plenty of vitamin E in their diets may have a somewhat lower risk of developing dementia than those who consume less of the nutrient, a study published Monday suggests.
Researchers found that among 5,400 Dutch adults age 55 and older, the one-third who reported the highest vitamin E intake from food were 25 percent less likely to develop dementia, including Alzheimer`s disease, over the next decade than the third with the lowest intakes.
The findings, reported in the Archives of Neurology, do not prove that vitamin E itself protects the aging brain. Studies so far have come to conflicting conclusions as to whether vitamin E or other antioxidants may influence older adults` risk of dementia.
However, the new study followed participants for a longer period than most previous studies on antioxidants and dementia. And it supports findings from some previous research that dietary vitamin E, in particular, might be related to a lower risk of dementia.
Researchers have been interested in whether antioxidants like vitamins E and C and beta-carotene might help stave off dementia because, in theory, their actions might interfere with the process of brain-cell degeneration.
Antioxidants neutralize unstable forms of oxygen called reactive oxygen species that can damage cells throughout the body. Reactive oxygen species are produced naturally in the body, as by-products of metabolism; because the brain is an area of high metabolic activity, it is thought to be particularly vulnerable to accumulating oxidative damage over a lifetime.
However, studies so far have come to mixed conclusions as to whether older adults with a high dietary intake of various antioxidants have a lower risk of dementia. And clinical trials looking at the effects of antioxidant supplements have found no evidence that they cut Alzheimer`s risk.
For the new study, researchers led by Dr. Monique Breteler, of Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, used data from 5,395 adults age 55 and older who were dementia-free at the start of the study. At that point, they were interviewed about their usual diet habits, which the researchers used to estimate their intake of vitamins C and E and beta-carotene.
Over the next decade, 465 study participants were diagnosed with dementia, including 365 with Alzheimer`s.
Among the one-third of men and women with the highest vitamin E intakes from food, 120 developed dementia. Of the third with the lowest intakes, 164 were diagnosed with dementia.