Vitamin E Retards Cognitive Decline
Researchers in Chicago performed a study on 2889 older individuals (aged 65-102, with an average age of 74) to determine whether antioxidants in their diet protect against age-related cognitive decline.2 They determined the typical dietary intake of the participants, calculated their specific intake of antioxidants, and performed a variety of neuropsychological tests to evaluate the participants' cognitive abilities at the beginning and end of the study (the average follow-up period was 3.2 years).
The researchers investigated the potential neuroprotective effects of several antioxidants, including vitamin E, vitamin C, and beta-carotene (a precursor of vitamin A). Only one of these nutrients, however - vitamin E - was found to protect significantly against cognitive decline. There was only a weak link between the rate of cognitive decline and vitamin C intake, and no link at all with beta-carotene intake. (Although beta-carotene and other vitamin A precursors have antioxidant activity in laboratory experiments, they do not generally show this activity in actual human bodies.)
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