Vitamin E-rich foods, such as avocados, seeds, nuts and eggs, may lower the risk of Alzheimer's disease, reported two studies in the June 26 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association.
Researchers at the Rush Institute for Healthy Aging in Chicago and the Netherlands' Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam looked at the effect of antioxidants on people not suffering from Alzheimer's. Previous research has indicated that free radical-fighting vitamin E supplements slow the progression of the disease (New England Journal of Medicine, 1997).
The Chicago study followed 815 adults 65 and older for four years and found that those who consumed the largest amount of vitamin E-rich foods, including leafy green vegetables, nuts and whole grains, lowered their risk of developing the disease by 70 percent. However, they found that vitamin E nutrients did not affect those who carried the gene linked to higher Alzheimer's risk.
The Dutch study looked at 5,395 people 55 and older for six years and concluded that a diet high in both vitamins E and C lowered Alzheimer's risk even when the gene was present.
Neither study found a link between vitamin E supplementation and reduced disease risk. Martha Clare Morris, lead researcher at the Rush Institute, said that this may be because some participants did not take supplements long enough for them to be effective but they did eat a vitamin E diet for a longer period of time. She added that another reason could be that supplements and foods contain different forms of the vitamin.
In a JAMA editorial, Daniel J. Foley of the National Institute on Aging, which funded the Chicago study, recommended more research to determine the supplement's effect on the disease. The NIA is currently funding several studies on antioxidants' effect on cognitive decline.
Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXIII/number 8/p. 11