Quick Study

Quick Study:

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Consumption of foods with Vitamin E is linked to a lower risk of dementia

THE QUESTION Might a diet rich in antioxidants protect against dementia?

THIS STUDY involved 5,395 people, who averaged 68 years old and did not have dementia at the start of the study. Their diets were assessed, and then they were examined periodically for about 10 years. In that time, 465 participants were given a diagnosis of dementia. Those who ate the most foods high in Vitamin E were 25 percent less likely to have developed dementia than were people who took in the least Vitamin E. Other antioxidants consumed in foods -- Vitamin C, beta carotene and flavonoids -- showed no link to dementia.

WHO MAY BE AFFECTED? Older people, especially those who eat foods containing antioxidants, which are thought to help prevent and repair cell damage and stave off heart disease and diabetes. Good sources of Vitamin E are leafy green vegetables, vegetable oils, margarine, nuts and seeds. It also is often added to cereals. Not all older people develop dementia. It is considered a collection of symptoms, including declining memory and language skills, that cause impaired intellectual functioning and, in time, can change a person's personality and behavior and interfere with normal day-to-day activities.

CAVEATS Supplement usage was not considered. Participants' diets were assessed only at the start of the study, and the determination of typical diets was based on their answers to questionnaires.

FIND THIS STUDY July issue of Archives of Neurology.

LEARN MORE ABOUT Vitamin E at http://www.ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets. Learn about dementia at http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders.

-- Linda Searing

The research described in Quick Study comes from credible, peer-reviewed journals. Nonetheless, conclusive evidence about a treatment's effectiveness is rarely found in a single study. Anyone considering changing or beginning treatment of any kind should consult with a physician.

© 2010 The Washington Post Company