A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association indicates that high levels of Vitamin E may cause a less rapid decline in functional capabilities in people with early Alzheimer’s.
The researchers were conservative in their conclusion:
Among patients with mild to moderate AD, 2000 IU/d of alpha tocopherol compared with placebo resulted in slower functional decline. There were no significant differences in the groups receiving memantine alone or memantine plus alpha tocopherol. These findings suggest benefit of alpha tocopherol in mild to moderate AD by slowing functional decline and decreasing caregiver burden.
(alpha tocopherol = Vitamin E)
This piece from the New York Times offers up many of the limitations of the study as well as opinions from other doctors who caution against taking action based on this one limited study:
Dr. Denis Evans, a professor of internal medicine at Rush University, who wrote an editorial accompanying the new study, cautioned against extrapolating the results to anyone without mild to moderate Alzheimer’s.
“Does this mean that all of us who don’t want to develop Alzheimer’s should rush out and purchase a bottle of vitamin E?” he said. “Oh, please don’t.”
What relevance does this have to my explorations in wellness? Well, faithful readers will recall that I am obsessed with fat-soluble vitamins. I’ve written about them a few times, like here, and here and here. But most of those pieces focus on Vitamins A, D, and K2, to the exclusion of Vitamin E.
So when I read about this study on Alzheimer’s and Vitamin E, I was reminded again why this issue of the fat-solubles intrigues me so much:
- The rage against dietary fat of the 1980s that still persists has largely gutted our diets of these vitamins.
- We’ve tended to get them in their precursor form, supplemental / enrichment form, or not at all.
- And there HAVE GOT TO BE effects from that.
Now, I’m not saying a low-fat diet causes Alzheimer’s disease. I am in no way qualified to make such a claim.
But, if you have read or heard any of Dr. David Perlmutter’s work, it may well be that you have heard him correlate fat intake with the presence of neurological dysfunction. And, unlike me, he is a world-class neurologist.
He’s the author of Grain Brain : The Surprising Truth About Wheat, Carbs and Sugar — Your Silent Killers and, while most of the press on the book has been about his advocacy of a low-carb diet, I found his comments on dietary fat to be the most convincing:
“We need to eat fat. We’re suggesting a revolutionary dietary change, telling people they should go on this new diet—which is only the diet humans have eaten for the past 2.6 million years! We’ve always eaten fat. Fat is the most wonderful health-providing food that we can obtain in the human diet. Of course, we have to qualify that with what type of fat you are eating.”
Dr. David Perlmutter, from an interview on Dr. Mercola’s website in September, 2013
He even underscores fats in his “Anti-Alzheimer’s Trio:”
The Anti-Alzheimer’s Trio: It’s become one of my staples of conversation, and it should become one of the staples of your diet. When it comes to eating “memory food” there is no better trio of items to fight Alzheimer’s and dementia than grass-fed beef, avocados, and coconut oil. This group of high-fat, brain-smart foods are a staple of the Grain Brain diet, and should work their way into your weekly meal plan as well.
So, there you go. My obsession with fat-soluble vitamins remains robust. And although I have focused almost maniacally on A, D, and K2, after this recent research, I promise to give Vitamin E a little blog love, too.