Patients with Alzheimer’s disease have lower levels of vitamin E, which could be a risk factor when determining the cause or progression of the condition, according to new research.
The Manchester Metropolitan University study analysed data from 33 other studies, concluding that that those with age-related cognitive impairment or Alzheimer’s disease had a lower concentration of vitamin E compared with healthy age-matched controls.
The findings, published in the Journal of Nutritional Science, supports previous evidence on the potential association of vitamin E with Alzheimer’s disease.
Vitamin E can be found in foods such as soya, corn and olive oils, cereals, and nuts and seeds.
Essential dietary requirement
Dr Chris Murgatroyd, from the Centre for Bioscience at Manchester Metropolitan, said: “Vitamin E is an essential dietary requirement for the body and has been associated in healthy brain function.
“The lack of it in our diet has been progressively examined as a potential independent risk factor of age-related cognitive decline and dementia, so high intake in our diet through eating things such as vegetable oils, nuts and seeds, or through supplements could be a benefit in reducing the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.”
Vitamin E has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and many of the studies analysed demonstrated the beneficial effects of vitamin E supplementation. Benefits include reducing inflammation, supporting cell signalling around the body, and the function of the immune system and its influence on Alzheimer’s disease.
The antioxidants in vitamin E could also help counteract oxidative stress – an imbalance of chemicals in the body, which often has an impact on the development of neurodegenerative disorders. Antioxidants and their supplements have been proposed by researchers as a preventative measure.
Reducing the risk
Dr Murgatroyd added: “From our study we know that those with Alzheimer’s disease have lower levels of vitamin E but there are many more factors that need to be controlled in order to say for sure what role dietary intake has in the risk for the development.
“Further research is needed to find out if changes to our diet can actually influence whether a person is likely to develop the disease or not.”
Vitamin E deficiency is also common in people with substance abuse issues and is known to influence production of genes in the hippocampus – the part of the brain responsible for memory and learning, and in particular, the genes that are associated with hormones.
It also has an effect on apoptosis – a process that maintains the balance of cells in the body; neurotransmission – a process that sends signals to the brain; and the clearance of abnormal protein in the body called Amyloid Beta, which is found in the brains of the people with Alzheimer’s disease.
The full paper, A meta-analysis of peripheral tocopherol levels in age-related cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease, can be found here: https://www.tandfonline.