Vitamin E in Supplements, Food May Protect Against Age-Related Cognitive Decline

BACKGROUND: Considerable research indicates that free radical (oxidative) damage in the brain may increase the risk of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease. A variety of studies and experiments suggest that antioxidant supplements and an antioxidant- rich diet may reduce the risk of developing these diseases or slow their progression.

RESEARCH: Researchers at a major Chicago medical center tracked the health of 2,889 people, ages 65 to 102, for an average of three years. The subjects were given four standard tests to assess their cognitive function, including memory. They also completed a detailed questionnaire about their diets and the supplements they took.

RESULTS: People who consumed the greatest amount of vitamin E, from supplements and foods, had a 36 percent reduction in the rate of cognitive decline, compared with people who consumed the least amount of vitamin E.

Those who consumed the largest amount of vitamin E from food alone had a 32 percent reduction in the rate of cognitive decline, compared with those who obtained the least amount of vitamin E from food. People consuming the most vitamin E (from supplements and food) had the mental function of people eight to nine years younger than those who consumed little vitamin E.

IMPLICATIONS: This study suggests that vitamin E may play a significant role in slowing the age-related decline in mental function, including memory. According to the researchers, "Vitamin E intake, from foods or supplements, is associated with less cognitive decline with age." The researchers further suggested that increasing vitamin E intake to at least the recommended levels could have important public health implications.

Morris MC, Evans DA, Bienias JL, et al., "Vitamin E and cognitive decline in older persons." Archives of Neurology, 2002;59:1125-1132.

For the original abstract, visit:

Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.