Vitamin E Depletion is a Triggering Event for the Onset of Alzheimer’s

By: Byron J. Richards, Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist
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Free radical damage in the brain is not only apparent in Alzheimer’s disease but the same types of damage are already occurring in mild cognitive impairment.  This led researchers to try and figure out if the free radical damage occurring in mild cognitive impairment was somehow different from that occurring in Alzheimer’s.  Their finding is rather interesting: at the point vitamin E is depleted1 then free radical damage accelerates and Alzheimer’s sets in.

Free radical damage is always occurring in the brain and hopefully being repaired.  When damage exceeds repair then problems with mood and many other nerve-related issues can occur.  At some point the amount of free radical damage becomes quite stressful and brain tangles begin to form, leading at first to mild cognitive impairment.  Eventually, the cellular savings account of antioxidants is stressed to the breaking point.  It now appears that once vitamin E is depleted from cell membranes then the antioxidant defense system is overwhelmed, the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back.

While there are many inflammatory possibilities that add to the wear and tear that causes cognitive decline, it is a basic principle of science that it is your antioxidant defense system that offsets this type of stress.  Vitamin E is so important because it is crucial to recycling other antioxidants, including the primary cellular antioxidant known as glutathione.  While vitamin E supplementation is important, all antioxidants work as part of a synergistic network.  This means supplementing with a variety of antioxidants is also a good idea.

Referenced Studies:
  1. ^ Vitamin E and Alzheimer’s Disease  Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease  Inês Baldeiras, Isabel Santana, Maria Teresa Proença, Maria Helena Garrucho, Rui Pascoal, Ana Rodrigues, Diana Duro, Catarina Resende Oliveira

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