Biomedical Tidbits

High Levels of Vitamin E Slow Alzheimer’s Disease


By Will Block

M any life extenders take the drug selegiline (deprenyl) to protect their brains from oxidative damage, increase the levels of brain catecholamine activity, reduce neuronal damage, and possibly slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease (which may be a disease we all will suffer from if we live long enough). A recent study has shown for the first time that the benefits of deprenyl may also be available for those taking high levels (2000 IU) of vitamin E daily.

When a total of 341 patients with Alzheimer’s disease received 10 mg of deprenyl (a MAO-B inhibitor) or 2000 IU of vitamin E (alpha tocopherol) or a placebo every day for two years, the time of onset for what the scientists termed a primary outcome was measured. (Primary outcomes included death, institutionalization, loss of the ability to perform basic activities of daily living, or severe dementia.) Those taking deprenyl outlasted placebo by an additional 215 days (49% longer) before encountering a primary outcome (655 days for deprenyl vs 440 days for placebo) and those taking the 2000 IU of vitamin E/day outlasted placebo by 230 days (52% longer) before they encountered any negative event from the same set of primary outcomes (670 days for vitamin E vs 440 days for placebo). These were significant delays. Vitamin E slowed the progression of Alzheimer’s disease slightly more than the treatment of choice, deprenyl, for patients with moderately severe impairment.

Reference

  1. Sano M, Ernesto C, Thomas RG, Klauber MR, Schafer K, Grundman M, Woodbury P, Growdon J, Cotman CW, Pfeiffer E, Schneider LS, Thal LJ. A controlled trial of selegiline, alpha-tocopherol, or both as treatment for Alzheimer’s disease. N Engl J Med. 1997;336:1216–1222.


Will Block is the publisher and editorial director of Life Enhancement magazine.

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