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Vitamin E May Be the Secret to Curing Dementia

While there are many supplements that can help prevent memory loss, recent studies on vitamin E have shown it to be one of the best. Find out why below.
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Today, memory loss is so common that it currently affects over 5.4 million Americans according to data collected by the Alzheimer’s Association. Once Alzheimer’s disease and dementia start, there is little that can be done to stop the progression of the disease or restore cognitive function.

The Alzheimer’s Association estimates that by 2030, Alzheimer’s will affect a full quarter of Americans. But is memory loss really a normal part of aging? Studies show that this may not be the case. Elderly individuals in decades past did not have the memory loss associated with aging today.

In fact, new studies are uncovering that most memory loss problems are actually lifestyle-related. The right preventive steps could be the key to preventing future memory loss and actually restoring lost memory in patients with dementia. Recent studies have uncovered that vitamin E could be particularly helpful in preserving memories and healing cognitive decline.

A study published in The Journal of American Medical Association in 2014 uncovered a surprising link between memory loss and vitamin E. The study found that participants who had high levels of vitamin E in their bodies showed delayed signs of memory loss in skills like planning and organizing.

Study Details

The 2014 study was conducted by researchers from universities around the country. The study acknowledged that vitamin E had previously been shown to benefit patients with severe memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease in the past, so the goal of this study was to see how the vitamin compared with a common memory-boosting drug (the acetylcholinesterase inhibitor memantine) in mild to moderate Alzheimer’s progression. The study examined 561 patients of which the patients were divided into four groups. One group took 2,000 IU of vitamin E, another group took 20 mg of memantine, another group took both vitamin E and memantine, and the last group took a placebo pill only.

The study examined each group for two years. At the end of the study, patients taking vitamin E had their ADCS-ADL Inventory scores declined by 3.15 units and patients taking memantine had their scores decreased by 1.98 units. Strangely enough, there was no difference between the memantine group and the memantine plus vitamin E group. The biggest difference was seen between the vitamin E group and the memantine group.

According to the researchers, clinical progression of Alzheimer’s was slowed about 19 percent per year. The Benefit of Vitamin E for Memory Researchers are not quite sure how vitamin E boosts the memory, but it most certainly does.

A Finnish study from 2013 looked at the role of high vitamin E levels (there are 8 total forms of vitamin E) in boosting the memory. All of the participants in the study were elderly persons who had no memory impairment at the start of the study. Over the next 8 years, the researchers tracked their vitamin E serum levels. The participants with the highest vitamin E levels in the varieties of γ-tocopherol, β-tocotrienol and total tocotrienols had the best chance of keeping a sharp mind as they aged.

Why Don’t We Have Enough Vitamin E?

According to the National Institutes of Health, most Americans are chronically low in vitamin E. This could be one reason why so many Americans face memory loss as they age. Vitamin E is normally considered important for its antioxidant and antibacterial effects. Vitamin E is essential for fighting off invaders and preventing the spread of free radicals in the body. As a fat-soluble vitamin, vitamin E is best absorbed with a source of healthy fat. Much of the foods that Americans eat in large amounts contain high levels of vitamin E. Vegetable oil, in particular, is high in vitamin E content. If we are consuming large amounts of vitamin E, then why are we still deficient in the vitamin?

Oxidation Imbalance

Researchers have not identified a clear link between what causes vitamin E loss, but new studies have shown that an imbalance of fats in the body can lead to reduced absorption of vitamin E. Additionally, certain fats can increase the level of oxidants in the body, which lead to the development of many problems as well as difficulties absorbing vitamin E.

One of the biggest problems in the modern diet is the consumption of vegetable oils. Ordinarily, the vitamin E in vegetables counteracts the Omega 6 fatty acids found in most vegetable oils. However, the processed form of vegetable oils used today are extremely processed forms of vegetable fats, leading to oxidation and high levels of Omega 6 fatty acids in the body. Such high levels of these unhealthy ingredients are simply too much for the vitamin E to counteract. Additionally, processing vegetable oil removes much of the benefit of the vitamins in the first place, making them virtually unusable.

Fat-Free Diets

Vitamin E is a vitamin that requires healthy fats to utilize the vitamins. Today’s modern diets lack the healthy fats that contribute to the absorption of vitamins like vitamin E. Our bodies are made up of about 97 percent monounsaturated and saturated fats. The remaining 3 percent is omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids- with no more than a 50/50 split between omega 3s and 6s.

Of course, most vegetable oils have a high concentration of omega 6 oils, which is one of the only forms of fat in the modern diet. The body cannot utilize this form of fat as effectively, which leads to a reduction in vitamin absorption in addition to the side effects listed above. The best fats to eat for optimal vitamin absorption include monounsaturated or saturated fats.

Healthy Sources of Useable Fats

Monounsaturated fats: Avocado, nuts, olive oil, high oleic sunflower oil

Saturated fats: Non-hydrogenated versions of – Coconut oil, palm oil, butter, animal fat


 The modern diet shuns these types of fats because it was thought that these fats could contribute to an increased risk for heart disease and high cholesterol. However, recent studies have uncovered that saturated fat intake has little bearing on heart disease and cholesterol, which are more likely to go up as a result of chronic inflammation.

Ironically, one of the biggest triggers for chronic inflammation in the body is a high consumption of omega-6 fatty acids. Basically, when you consume vegetable oil, you are not only preventing the absorption of vital nutrients like vitamin E, but you are also increasing your risk for getting heart disease and other diseases.

If you want to improve your intake of vitamin E and other fat-soluble vitamins, give your body a source of fat that is easy for it to make use of like saturated fat, monounsaturated fat, and omega 3 fatty acids.

What is the Best Form of Vitamin E?

Since there are 8 strains of vitamin E, it can be a challenge to identify the best strain that will protect your memory. Of course, the hard work is already done for you. The studies above have stated that the best strains for memory protection are alpha-tocopherol (the kind that usually comes in supplement form), gamma-tocopherol, beta-tocotrienol and total tocotrienol levels. You will want to include all of these sources of vitamin E in your diet to protect your memory.

Sourcing Vitamin E Through Food

Of course, food is the best source of vitamin E that you can take. Synthetic forms of vitamins are never as powerful as what you will find in vegetables and fruit. The trouble is, of course, that supplements contain higher levels than what you would normally find in vegetables. You would have to eat a lot of vegetables and fruit to receive 2,000 IU of vitamin E each day. That is why taking both supplements and eating enough foods rich in vitamin E may be the best strategy for protecting your memory.

Where to Find Vitamin E in Foods 

Tocopherol: Leafy greens, nuts, sunflower seeds, avocado, shellfish, fish, olive oil, tomatoes

Tocotrienol: Palm oil, bran, barley, oats, rice


Other Steps to Prevent Dementia

Taking vitamin E alone, even if you eat vegetables slathered in palm oil, is probably not enough to protect your memories forever. Just like many other diseases, there is no single cure that will prevent dementia from happening 100 percent of the time. Luckily, there are many things you can do to protect your memory and prevent cognitive decline as you age. Employ the following tips to keep your mind sharp:

Eat Your Coconut Oil

According to new research, ketones are particularly beneficial for preserving cognitive function. Ketones are the process of converting fat into energy rather than sugar into energy. Medium-chain triglycerides, such as those found in coconut oil, are a natural source of ketone energy.

Dr. Mary Newport is the champion of coconut oil for preventing dementia. She has conducted several case studies on the subject, and is also conducting a clinical trial to test this theory. In case studies, supplementing with about 4 teaspoons of coconut oil per day was able to improve the memory in dementia patients.

Eat the Right Fruits and Veggies

Certain fruits and vegetables are better able to improve your memory than others. For example, blueberries have been proven to be effective at boosting brain power. Other foods that can keep your brain working properly include walnuts, leafy greens, strawberries, citrus fruits, broccoli, red peppers, grapes, and cranberries.

Eat the Right Minerals

Certain minerals are more effective than others at preserving your cognitive function. The following minerals are the most effective for preserving brain power:

Zinc: Zinc is a necessary mineral for proper mental clarity and function. Studies have shown that zinc deficiencies lead to learning challenges in children and may cause an increased risk for dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Magnesium: Many Americans are low in magnesium, which is necessary for hundreds of processes in the brain. One of these is cognitive function. According to some studies, supplementing with magnesium improves short and long-term memory and other areas of cognitive function.

Iodine: Low-levels of iodine not only increase the chance for a learning disability in children, but pregnant women with low iodine levels are more likely to produce offspring with learning disabilities and poor cognitive function. Some research suggests that low iodine levels could also contribute to an increased risk for dementia.

Herbs for Memory Loss

A few herbs have also been linked to a reduction in dementia and Alzheimer’s symptoms. The following herbs are some of the most beneficial for their memory-boosting effects:

Ginseng and Gingko biloba: Ginseng is a powerful herb that can benefit memory and energy levels as is gingko biloba. In a study of the two herbs from 2000 by Cognitive Drug Research found that supplementing with these two supplements for 12 weeks boosted cognitive function by about 8 percent.

Bacopa: In a study from 2002 conducted by the University of Wollongong it was found that participants who took bacopa had improved short-term memory.

Prevention The Key To Reducing Dementia Risk

While vitamin E and the other methods listed above are highly effective at preserving the memory, it is much harder to regain memories and cognitive function once it is lost. This means that to protect your cognitive function later, it is important to take steps now. You can control your future memory loss with the diet and lifestyle changes that you make now.

Luckily, it is easy to avoid future memory problems by ensuring you get enough healthy vitamin E in your diet and support your memory with other supplements and lifestyle changes. Just like many other issues, a healthy diet and active lifestyle is the best thing you can do to preserve your mental health in the future.

Sources


http://www.alz.org/downloads/facts_figures_2011.pdf

http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1810379

http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminE-QuickFacts/#h1

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