Arlington Heights, IL—Two recent studies have shown vitamin E may be effective against oxidative stress, allergic asthma and functional decline in those with Alzheimer’s disease.

The first study, published in Allergy, the official journal of the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, set out to see if natural-source vitamin E could reduce allergic asthma. The researchers gave 33 male and female participants with allergic asthma 1,500 IU natural-source vitamin E from Carlson Laboratories (based here) once daily for 16 weeks. Results showed that the high doses of vitamin E curbed allergic asthma in the participants and reduced oxidative stress. 

Oxidative stress, caused by free radicals in the body, is associated with asthma. Free radicals are fought with antioxidants, a larger number of which are produced by natural-source vitamin E than synthetic forms of the supplement. Studies have also found that natural-source vitamin E stays in the body longer compared to synthetic vitamin E.

Another benefit of vitamin E was added to the list with the results of a second recent study conducted by faculty at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, NY, in cooperation with Veteran’s Administrative Medical Centers. A double-blind, controlled trial, published in the online version of the Journal of the American Medical Association, followed participants over a five-year time span to see the effects of vitamin E (alpha tocopherol) on Alzheimer’s patients. A group of 613 participants with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease were given either 2,000 IU vitamin E, 20 mg of prescription Alzheimer’s medication (memantine), a combination of the two or placebo daily from August 2007 to September 2012.

Results were measured based on the Alzheimer’s Disease Cooperative Study/Activities of Daily Living (ADCS-ADL) Inventory score, as well as on time required by the caregivers. According to Mary Sano, Ph.D., trial co-investigator, vitamin E delayed the progression of functional decline (problems with daily living activities such as shopping and preparing meals) by 19% per year, which equals 6.2 months of benefit over placebo. In addition, caregiver time increased the least for those taking vitamin E.  No added benefit for memory or cognitive function was seen with vitamin E supplementation.

Investigators of the study saw the findings to be significant considering how accessible and inexpensive vitamin E is. Sano previously led a study on vitamin E in moderately severe Alzheimer’s patients that produced similar results. Because of the success in both studies, the researchers believe vitamin E should be recommended as a treatment strategy to those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

Published in Wholefoods Magazine, February 2014 (online 1/3/14)