Vitamin E levels are low in children with DS due to malabsorption. Patients with DS related dementia have lower levels of vitamin E than those without dementia. Vitamin E has a protective role in the body, slowing down the onset of Alzheimer’s. Vitamin E protects the body from chromosomal damage in lymphocytes, suggesting that its antioxidant benefits may also improve the efficiency of DNA.
A study conducted by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health indicates that taking high daily doses of Vitamins C and E may reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) by at least 64%. The five-year study, published in the January 2004 issue of the Archives of Neurology, included 4,740 participants aged 65 years and older.
“Our findings suggest that Vitamins E and C may offer protection against Alzheimer’s Disease when taken together in the higher doses from individual supplements” according to study author Dr. Peter Zandi. The vitamins’ antioxidant properties may reduce free radicals which damage cells, leading to AD.
The Vitamin E supplements taken by the study participants contained up to 1,000 IUs and the Vitamin C supplements contained 500 to 1,000 mcgs. The U.S. Recommended Daily Allowance for Vitamin E is 22 IUs and for Vitamin C it is 75 to 90 mcgs. Taking a lower dosage multivitamin or using just one of the vitamins alone did not have the same protective effect. A Vitamin E supplement together with a multivitamin may provide some benefit. According to the report, high-dose vitamin supplements are rarely toxic and could have wide-ranging health benefits.
Alzheimer’s is a disease that attacks the brain and results in impaired memory, thinking, and behavior. Approximately 5 million Americans suffer from AD.
This study has implications in Down syndrome as well; estimates vary but approximately 25% or more of individuals with Down syndrome over age 35 have clinical signs and symptoms of AD. Overall, the incidence of AD in Down syndrome is estimated to be 3 to 5 times greater than in the general population.
Vitamin E, as is true of most vitamins, is a naturally occurring complex that never exists in isolation in nature. Vitamin E consists of at least 4 tocopherols (alpha, beta, gamma, and delta) and 4 tocotrienols (alpha, beta, gamma, and delta). Unfortunately, most vitamin E products on the market contain only one of those eight components, d-alpha tocopherol (and to make matters worse, it's often the less effective synthetic version, dl-alpha-tocopherol). This came about due to several inaccurate scientific observations and a couple of one-dimensional studies. Fortunately, over the last few years, researchers have come to understand that alpha tocopherol is not only NOT the most important component, it is, at best, number five in the pecking order-- trailing all of the tocotrienols and gamma tocopherol in importance. When it comes to choosing a vitamin E supplement, look for a full spectrum, all natural vitamin E.
Note: Many Vitamin E supplements also contain soy - check the label carefully if this is a concern for you.