Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Strong to the Finish – Vitamin E

Sometimes research verifies what physicians or people have learned through good old fashioned trial and error. Without a cure or effective treatment for Alzheimer’s, many have tried alternative methods. One of the many alternative treatments for Alzheimer’s is Vitamin E.

Jim took 800 milligrams (1200 IU) of Vitamin E a day. He took this under a physician’s care. The thing that impressed me about Vitamin E wasn’t that it made a lot of difference in Jim’s cognitive abilities, but rather an unrelated condition. Jim had a sore on his lip that just wouldn’t go away. Our family physician decided it needed to be biopsied. At about that same time, his neurologist put him on Vitamin E. Within two weeks, his lip was completely healed.

The most recent study of Vitamin E conducted on 613 veterans shows promise as a means of slowing the progression of Alzheimer’s—something that traditional medications have failed to do. Yes, the disease still progressed in the study group taking a 2,000 IU (1,333 mg.) daily dose of Vitamin E. The good news is that the group retained ability to do basic tasks longer than the group that took a placebo. In fact, the slower rate of decline amounted to about a six month delay in progression.

Six months may not seem like much on the surface, but at the Alzheimer’s Forums I’ve attended, statistics have shown that any treatment that will slow the progression of Alzheimer’s amounts to huge benefits. If a person can delay going into a nursing home by six months, it saves the family an average of $248 per day, or $45,260 for the room alone. As we all know, the family pays for a log of “extras” when a loved one is place in a nursing home.

Like many dietary supplements, Vitamin E has met with mixed reviews. An early study of Vitamin E was considered a warning since that study showed a higher death rate in the people who took more than 400 IU of Vitamin E a day. Most studies indicate that toxicity occurs when doses exceed 3000 IU. This is not surprising since when a Vitamin K deficiency is involved Vitamin E can cause prolonged bleeding and affect the blood’s ability to clot. Other signs of toxicity are double vision, fatigue, muscle weakness, and diarrhea. The National Academy of Sciences set the tolerable upper limit at 1,000 milligrams per day.

The Recommended daily dosage of Vitamin E is 15 milligrams (22.5 IU). As you can easily see, it is a quantum leap from 22.5 IU to 2000 IU.
Vitamin E deficiency can cause various symptoms: gallbladder disease, liver disease, celiac disease, peripheral neuropathy, and skin problems.

What is Vitamin E anyway? It is a group of fat-soluble vitamins that are active throughout the entire body. Tocopherols come in four different forms—first names of Alpha, Beta, Gamma, and Delta. Alpha tocopherol was used in the study.

Vitamin E has been studied in treatments of other conditions. Vitamin E protects the skin from UV damage. Alpha tocopherol reduces the risk of bladder cancer.  Most supplements contain alpha tocopherol, but it is gamma-tocopherol that fights prostate cancer. Vitamin E may play a role in the prevention or treatment of a long list of conditions which includes everything from acne to several types of cancer. Some of the biggies, besides cancer of course, are diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.

Before going on Vitamin E, you need to check with your physician to make sure the supplement will not interact with other medications or make another condition worse.

In the meantime, you can follow Popeye’s example and eat your spinach. It is an excellent source of Vitamin E. Don’t like spinach? Try Swiss chard or turnip greens for other top sources. If you prefer nuts, sunflower seeds and almonds are both very good sources. The really good thing about getting Vitamin E from foods is that no known side effects from food exist. Even if you take supplements, eating Vitamin E rich foods enhance the benefits.

I think Popeye was really on to something when he said, “I’m strong to the finish ’cause I eats me spinach.” He was loading up on Vitamin E. And to top it off, he loved Olive Oil, and that just happens to be another source of Vitamin E.

Copyright © L. S. Fisher January 2014

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