Alzheimer’s Disease is something no one wants to face. Those who have witnessed its effects firsthand know how devastating the disease can be. Unfortunately, even in our modern age of medicine, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s. There are, however, promising avenues for scientists to explore.
While research is ongoing, studies show that adequate Vitamin E consumption has protective effects on the brain, and may even help patients who are already diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Studies show that receiving adequate amounts of Vitamin E, whether through diet or supplements, can support healthy brain function, particularly in elderly individuals.
Read on to learn what we know so far about how Vitamin E affects the brain, and how regular intake may fight the symptoms of some neurodegenerative diseases.
Vitamin E fights oxidative stress
Limiting free radical production is one of the primary roles Vitamin E plays in the body. Adequate intake of Vitamin E keeps free radicals from multiplying and causing oxidative stress. Since this nutrient is fat soluble, your body stores it in tissues and releases it upon detection of free radicals. When people consume Vitamin E—either through dietary sources or through supplements—fat cells release it to scavenge the free radicals before they can do damage to the cells in your body.
Why is combatting oxidative stress important? The health of all the cells in your body depends on it. Oxidative stress is believed to be linked to a whole host of health complications, including diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular complications and even premature aging.
One of the prevailing modern theories about the origins of Alzheimer’s Disease has to do with oxidative stress on the brain. This is where the link between Vitamin E and brain health becomes even more apparent.
How free radicals can contribute to Alzheimer’s Disease
The brain is highly susceptible to harm from oxidative stress over time. As people age, the likelihood of cognitive problems increases, and many scientists believe there is a link between brain health and oxidative stress.
Alzheimer’s Disease is the most common neurodegenerative disease, affecting millions of people worldwide each year. As oxidation impacts brain lipids, carbohydrates, proteins and DNA, oxidative stress begins to alter the cells within the brain. Since the body naturally increases oxidation during the aging process, the accumulation of oxidative damage is believed to contribute to the onset of Alzheimer’s, as well as it’s progressive nature.
Some researchers believe that Vitamin E actively delays cognitive decline, even in patients who have already been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Adequate intake of the vitamin—which is around 15mg per day for healthy adults—could be a big help when it comes to cognitive health, especially for the elderly.
Vitamin E and brain health
Studies have shown that Vitamin E intake is directly linked to the health of the brain—and they also show that diets poor in the nutrient can lead to an increased risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease.
How does Vitamin E help? In simplest terms, it carries DHA to the brain, protecting it from cellular damage and neuronal death. This incredibly important material essentially builds and maintains the brain, crucial for preserving cognitive function. In clinical studies, researchers found that people who maintained inadequate levels of Vitamin E actually had about half of the DHA as those who received their recommended daily intake of the nutrient.
We don’t know the true extent to which Vitamin E protects the brain, partly because only the alpha-tocopherol form of the vitamin has been studied in clinical trials. There are seven other Vitamin E isomers that may have beneficial effects, as well. The true extent to which this important nutrient protects the brain is something that researchers have yet to fully uncover.
Antioxidants are important
Vitamin E is gaining traction as an important nutrient, charged with preventing oxidative stress from damaging cells throughout the body. While other vitamins like A, B, C or D tend to get more attention than E, it’s clear that scientists believe in the free radical-fighting power of Vitamin E.
Early studies reflect the belief that Vitamin E can play a big role in maintaining a healthy brain and cognitive function, and may even help in preventing the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.
Antioxidants aren’t only crucial for brain health, but for the health of the body as a whole. From fighting the early signs of aging and boosting the immune system to warding off vascular diseases and diabetes, scientists are reevaluating the role of antioxidants like Vitamin E for overall health and wellness.