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Vitamins E, D Linked to Cognitive Benefits in Later Life

Last Updated: July 13, 2010.

Higher intake of vitamin E appears to lower risk of dementia and Alzheimer's disease, while older individuals with low vitamin D levels appear more likely to experience cognitive decline, according to two studies published in the July Archives of Neurology and the July 12 Archives of Internal Medicine, respectively.

TUESDAY, July 13 (HealthDay News) -- Higher intake of vitamin E appears to lower risk of dementia and Alzheimer's disease, while older individuals with low vitamin D levels appear more likely to experience cognitive decline, according to two studies published in the July Archives of Neurology and the July 12 Archives of Internal Medicine, respectively.

In the first study, Elizabeth E. Devore, of the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, Netherlands, and colleagues analyzed data from 5,395 subjects, aged 55 and older, who were free of dementia at baseline. At this time, participants provided dietary information. Over a mean follow-up of 9.6 years, higher vitamin E intake at baseline was associated with lower long-term dementia risk (hazard ratio for highest versus lowest tertile, 0.75). Similar results were seen for Alzheimer's disease risk (hazard ratio for highest versus lowest tertile, 0.74).

In the second study, David J. Llewellyn, Ph.D., of the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom, and colleagues analyzed data from 858 subjects, aged 65 and older, who provided blood samples for testing of 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25[OH]D) and took the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) at baseline, three years, and six years. Many also took the Trail-Making Tests A and B. The risk of substantial cognitive decline on the MMSE was higher in those with severe 25(OH)D deficiency -- defined as levels less than 25 nmol/L -- than those with sufficient levels of 75 nmol/L or greater (adjusted relative risk, 1.60). Risk was also higher for substantial decline on the Trail-Making Test B (relative risk, 1.31).

"It is now time to test the various hypotheses generated by observational studies of vitamin D, including that of Llewellyn et al, in adequately designed and conducted randomized controlled trials," write the authors of an editorial accompanying the second study. "Very importantly, such trials will also provide an opportunity to systematically assess potential harms of vitamin D supplementation, an issue that has been largely overlooked or dismissed. We should invest in trials that provide the best possible evidence on the benefits and risks of vitamin D before we invest in costly, difficult, and potentially unrewarding interventional strategies."

Abstract - Devore
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Abstract - Llewellyn
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Editorial (subscription or payment may be required)


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