A daily dose of Vitamin E is capable of slowing down the progression of Alzheimer's. However, the effect is small and researchers claim that Vitamin E does not attack the underlying cause of the disease. The best purpose for giving an Alzheimer's patient Vitamin E is to allow for a slower decline in thinking and to reduce the burden on caregivers. The study showed that patients taking a high dose of Vitamin E require less caregiving compare to those who don't.

"We found vitamin E significantly slowed the rate of progression versus placebo," said Dr. Maurice Dysken, who is with the Geriatric Research Education and Clinical Center of the Minneapolis VA Health Care System. The study was reported in the Jan. 1 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association.

Because Vitamin E does not fight the underlying cause of Alzheimer's, it should not be seen as a cure but as a medication capable of slowing down the process. Furthermore, Vitamin E is inexpensive, so the cost of using the product on a regular basis should not be a huge factor.

People must also realize that Vitamin E taken in a large dose can have an effect on other medications the patient might be taking. They should keep this in mind because no one knows what effects might take place after the dose.

"We know there might be some interactions with other medications that people might be taking, including blood thinners or cholesterol medications," said Heather Snyder, director of medical and scientific operations for the Alzheimer's Association. That means that people who want to take vitamin E to treat Alzheimer's should do so under the supervision of their doctor, according to Snyder and Dr. Dysken.

In an editorial that accompanies the research, scientists from Rush University in Chicago believes that research and studies in treating Alzheimer's should take a backseat in favor of finding ways to prevent the disease from happening.

"As with almost all previous Alzheimer's disease trials, the therapeutic effect seen was modest and more relevant to Alzheimer's disease symptoms and consequences than to reversal of the disease process," wrote Denis A. Evans, MD, and colleagues. "Considering the difficulties inherent in trying to treat rather than prevent very high-prevalence diseases and the limitations thus far of the therapeutic efforts for people with Alzheimer's disease, shifting to more emphasis on prevention seems warranted."

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