Alzheimer’s disease affects an estimated 30 million Americans today. It’s a form of dementia that has always eluded researchers and physicians alike, with no cure for the disease on the horizon. In fact, the only definitive test that proves the presence of this disease is conducted after death. With thousands of research studies being conducted on Alzheimer’s every year, each one using the most advanced medical science, could the answer to this deadly puzzle actually lie in something as simple as vitamin E?
For decades, scientists have hoped to find something that would combat the methodical damage of Alzheimer’s. After trying almost every medicinal combination they could think of, they went back to the drawing board. They went back to vitamin E. Now, researchers believe that the vitamin could actually slow the progression of mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s disease. If proven, this is a huge breakthrough and an even bigger ray of hope for patients suffering from the disease.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs sponsored the vitamin E study, which included 600 older veterans. Participants were each given high doses of vitamin E on a daily basis over a period of two years. When the data from the study was compiled, researchers were literally shocked to see the results. In the end, this was the very first time a treatment has successfully altered the course of mild-to-moderate dementia.
After receiving the high dose vitamin E therapy, participants showed a delayed decline in activities of daily living. The veterans could prepare their own meals, get dressed appropriately and hold a conversation at the beginning cognitive level. Researchers estimate that the vitamin E actually delayed the progression of Alzheimer’s by about six months in each veteran.
Researchers have equated the benefit of this therapy to “keeping one major skill that otherwise would have been lost.” So, if one participant would have otherwise lost the ability to dress himself over a period of two years, the vitamin E therapy could potentially preserve that skill. For some, this difference could literally mean the difference between living independently and living in a skilled nursing facility.
While the results are encouraging, doctors warn the public not to begin dosing themselves with large quantities of vitamin E, as more research needs to be done.
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