Vitamin C and E supplement use associated with reduced Alzheimers disease risk

January 20, 2004
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Vitamin C and E supplement use associated with reduced Alzheimer’s disease risk


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Prevention of “normal” brain aging





Alzheimer’s disease


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Vitamin C and E supplement use associated with reduced Alzheimer’s disease risk
The January 2004 issue of the AMA journal Archives of Neurology published findings obtained from the Cache County Study, which involved 4,470 older residents of Cache County, Utah, that the use of the antioxidant vitamins C and E together may protect the brain from Alzheimer’s disease.

Participants were queried about vitamin supplement use and assessed for dementia from 1996-1997, during which 200 cases of Alzheimer’s disease were identified. Reassessment from 1998-2000 identified 104 new cases. The researchers, led by assistant professor of the Department of Mental Health at John Hopkins Blomberg School of Public Health, Peter P. Zandi, PhD, found that taking both vitamin C and E as individual supplements was associated with a 78 percent reduction in the risk of having Alzheimer’s disease at the beginning of the study, and a 64 percent reduction in disease risk over the course of the study. However, taking either vitamin alone or taking both in the form of a multinutrient supplement was not associated with a reduced risk, although taking an individual vitamin E supplement in combination with a multinutrient supplement was protective. The authors of the study believe that the reason for these findings may be that individual supplements may contain up to 1,000 international units of vitamin E and 500 to 1,000 milligrams or more of vitamin C, while multinutrient supplements often contain only the recommended daily allowances of vitamins C and E.

Dr Zandi enthused, "These results are extremely exciting. Our study suggests that the regular use of vitamin E in nutritional supplement doses, especially in combination with vitamin C, may reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease . . . Further study with randomized prevention trials is needed before drawing firm conclusions about the protective effects of these antioxidants. Such trials should consider testing a regimen of vitamin E and C in combination. If effective, the use of these antioxidant vitamins may offer an attractive strategy for the prevention of Alzheimer's disease."

What's Hot

Prevention of “normal” brain aging
An American Medical Association media briefing in New York on January 15, 2004 was the site of a presentation by Alzheimer's Association Medical and Scientific Advisory Committee chair Marilyn Albert, PhD, on the prevention of so called “normal” brain aging as opposed to Alzheimer’s disease (AD).

Dr Albert explained the difference between the development of Alzheimer's disease and the decline in cognitive function that occurs in aging individuals who do not have the disease. While neurons are lost in Alzheimer’s disease, memory loss associated with normal aging is likely to be the result of changes in the way neurons communicate. Pharmaceutical agents that are used prevent and treat Alzheimer’s disease may have side effects that render them inappropriate for healthy people. Nevertheless, understanding how to maintain normal brain health is providing clues about what may reduce the likelihood of developing Alzheimer's disease. The National Institute on Aging, National Institute of Mental Health and the National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Stroke are collaborating to unify the knowledge that has been gained on the subject, and to find ways of extending that knowledge.

Dr Albert, who is the director of the division of cognitive neuroscience, department of neurology, at Johns Hopkins University School of medicine, stated, " We are already learning that there may be ways of maintaining general brain health that can be safely recommended to everyone and could have a real impact on helping people maintain the brain's repair mechanisms, resilience and responsiveness. Vitamin E, an antioxidant, has already been tested and shown to somewhat reduce AD symptoms. Increased mental activity may achieve a protective effect by increasing the connections between nerve cells. We know that vitamin E is relatively safe and physicians can feel comfortable recommending it. And, of course, there just doesn't seem to be any downside to increased mental and physical activity.“


Alzheimer’s disease
Alzheimer's-like symptoms can be manifested by a variety of different diseases including:

  • Neurological damage that occurs after a stroke or with multiple infarctions
  • Space-occupying lesions in the brain, such as brain cancer and subdural hematoma
  • Other neurological disorders, such as Parkinson's disease (a deficiency of dopamine), Huntington's disease, and multiple sclerosis
  • Infectious diseases such as meningitis, late-stage syphilis, and AIDS
  • Endocrine disorders, such as hypothyroidism and hypoglycemia
  • Cardiovascular disorders, such as congestive heart failure and vascular disease
  • Liver or kidney dysfunction

Nutritional deficiencies of vitamin E, magnesium, and B vitamins (B12, folic acid, niacin, and thiamin) can also produce symptoms which might be mistaken for dementia.

Researchers have shown that cultured cells are prevented from beta-amyloid toxicity with the addition of vitamin E (Grundman 2000). Researchers at the University of Kentucky published a ground-breaking article showing that vitamin E prevented the increase of polyamine metabolism in response to free-radical mediated oxidative stress caused by the addition of beta-amyloid to the rat neurons (Yatin et al. 1999).

Research conducted in Germany showed that both natural and synthetic vitamin E were more effective than estrogen (17-beta estradiol) in protecting neurons against oxidative death caused by beta-amyloid, hydrogen peroxide, and the excitatory amino acid glutamate (Behl 2000).

Research conducted at the University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine studied the protective effects of vitamin E in apolipoprotein E-deficient mice. Those treated with vitamin E displayed a significantly improved behavioral performance in the Morris water maze. Also, the untreated mice displayed increased levels of lipid peroxidation and glutathione, whereas the vitamin E-treated mice showed near normal levels of both lipid peroxidation and glutathione (Veinbergs et al. 2000).

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Vitamin C may help to:

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  • Improve immune function
  • Maintain healthy skin and blood vessels
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  • Reduce allergic reactions

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If you have questions or comments concerning this issue or past issues of Life Extension Weekly Update, send them to or call 954 766 8433 extension 7716.

For longer life,

Dayna Dye
Editor, Life Extension Weekly Update
954 766 8433 extension 7716
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