BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS. Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a rapidly growing health problem in Europe and North America. The prevalence of AD is now 3% in persons aged 65 years rising to almost 50% in those over 85 years. The current cost to the economy of AD is estimated to be over $100 billion per year and is exceeded only by the cost of heart disease and cancer. AD is characterized by neuronal degeneration and the presence of neurofibrillary tangles and senile plaques in the brain. There is now considerable evidence that inflammation and oxidative stress are crucial elements in the development of AD.
Vitamin E is highly effective in combating both oxidative stress and inflammation. A recent study carried out in the Netherlands found that people with a high intake of vitamin E from food (more than 15.5 mg/day) were 43% less likely to develop AD than were people with a low intake. Supplementing with vitamin E, on the other hand, did not decrease the risk of developing AD. Another study concluded that a high dietary intake of vitamin C and vitamin E was associated with a reduced risk of AD, especially among smokers.
Vitamin-E is not only a powerful antioxidant, but is also involved in cellular signaling and transcriptional
regulation and has been shown to inhibit key events in inflammation. These latter properties, however,
would appear to be exhibited only by natural but not by synthetic vitamin E.