Patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease were able to care for themselves longer and needed less help performing everyday chores when they took a daily capsule containing 200 IUs of alpha tocopherol, or vitamin E, a study has found.
Compared with subjects who took placebo pills, those who took daily supplements of the antioxidant vitamin E and were followed for an average of two years, three months delayed their loss of function by a little more than six months on average, a 19 percent improvement. And the vitamin E group’s increased need for caregiver help was the lowest of several groups, including those taking the Alzheimer’s drug memantine, those taking memantine and vitamin E, and those taking a placebo pill.
“A delay in six months over two years, that’s very meaningful to some patients and caregivers,” Dysken, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Minnesota, said in a Dec. 27 telephone interview.
Dysken, who is a former director of the Geriatric Research, Education and Clinical Center at the Minneapolis VA Health Care System, added that his study “does not address whether vitamin E will prevent Alzheimer’s disease in people who don’t have the diagnosis.”
The study looked at 613 veterans who were given vitamin E, a combination of vitamin E and Forest Laboratories’s Namenda for moderate to severe Alzheimer’s, Namenda alone or a placebo. The vitamin E used in the study was about 20 times the dosage usually found in a multivitamin.
All patients in the trial were on some type of Alzheimer’s medication, such as Eisai’s Aricept or Johnson & Johnson’s Razadyne. The main outcome was how well patients could perform activities of daily living.
They found that vitamin E slowed the worsening of the disease by 19 percent a year compared with placebo. The research also showed those who took care of patients taking vitamin E were able to spend less time caregiving than for those taking Namenda alone.