Study questions antioxidant vitamins for dementia

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Dietary supplement, Antioxidant

The risk of dementia may not be influenced by vitamin C and E
supplements, suggests a new study from the US.

The results appear to challenge previous reports that these antioxidant vitamins may influence levels of oxidative stress linked to the development of dementia, particularly Alzheimer's, report researchers in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society​. Researchers from the University of Washington in Seattle followed 2,969 people for five and a half years, and no benefits found for the antioxidant vitamins and the incidence of dementia or Alzheimer's. "The current evidence does not support recommending use of antioxidant vitamin supplements for prevention of dementia in older adults,"​ wrote lead author Shelly Gray. Alzheimer's is the most common form of dementia and currently affects over 13 million people worldwide. The direct and indirect cost of Alzheimer care is over $100 bn (€ 81 bn) in the US alone. The direct cost of Alzheimer care in the UK was estimated at £15 bn (€ 22 bn). By the year 2047, the prevalence of Alzheimer's disease (AD) is expected to quadruple, according to some experts. Although the mechanism of Alzheimers is not clear, more support is gathering for the build-up of plaque from beta-amyloid deposits. The deposits are associated with an increase in brain cell damage and death from oxidative stress. It is against the oxidative stress that the antioxidants have previously been reported to offer protection. Gray and co-workers recruited 1,342 users of vitamin C or E supplements, 576 multivitamin supplement users, and 1,051 people who did not take supplements. The average age of all subjects was 75.6 and 60.2 per cent were women. At the end of the study, 405 subjects had developed dementia, but no relationship between vitamin intakes and the risk of the disease were observed. "This population-based, longitudinal study of persons aged 65 and older with more than 5 years of follow-up showed no effect of supplemental use of vitamins E or C on risk for overall dementia or AD after adjusting for several potential confounders, which is consistent with other epidemiological evaluations of supplement use,"​ wrote Gray. "Furthermore, these analyses did not support the hypothesis that concurrent use of vitamins E and C would reduce dementia or AD risk." "A question that has not been addressed is whether antioxidant supplement use in midlife may prevent AD and other dementias, but given the recent evidence that high-dose vitamin E may have adverse health consequences, it is unlikely that this line of research will be pursued,"​ concluded the researchers, referring to the controversial meta-analysis that reported an increased risk of all-cause mortality for people with high vitamin E intake. Source: Journal of the American Geriatrics Society​ February 2008, Volume 56, Issue 2, Page 291-295, doi: 10.1111/j.1532-5415.2007.01531.x "Antioxidant Vitamin Supplement Use and Risk of Dementia or Alzheimer's Disease in Older Adults" ​Authors: S.L. Gray, M.L. Anderson, P.K. Crane, J.C.S. Breitner, W. McCormick, J.D. Bowen, L. Teri, E. Larson

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