Diets high in vitamins C and E may lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease

Researchers at the Erasmus Medical Center in the Netherlands examined the relationship between antioxidant intake from food and the development of Alzheimer’s. They found that participants with a high intake of certain antioxidants were less likely to develop Alzheimer’s.

The study consisted of 5,395 participants age 55 and older, who were free of dementia and had reliable information on their dietary habits. Of the participants examined between 1990 to 1993 and re-examined between 1993 to 1994 and again between 1997 to 1999, 197 developed dementia, 146 of whom had Alzheimer’s.

In a related study, researchers examined the association between Alzheimer’s and antioxidant intake from foods among people living in a biracial community in the United States. Their results support the findings that vitamin E from food may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s but did not find the same association with other antioxidants.

Scientists from Rush-Presbyterian St. Luke’s Medical Center in Chicago studied 815 people, ages 65 and over who didn’t have Alzheimer’s. They found that the risk for participants in the top fifth of intake of vitamin E was lower by 67 percent compared to people in the lowest fifth of intake.

According to information given in the accompanying editorial, about 360,000 new cases of Alzheimer’s are reported in the United States each year. Previous studies suggested a link between the intake of certain antioxidants and the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

Researchers caution that more studies need to be done to define the potential effects of antioxidants on Alzheimer’s. In the two studies, preclinical illness may have been a factor influencing dietary reporting by participants and only vitamins intake from food and supplements were analyzed.

SOURCE: Journal of the American Medicine Association, 2002;287:3223-3229, 3230-3237

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