Elderly people may benefit from taking vitamin E, according to a study by the Human Nutrition Research Centre on Aging at Tufts University in Boston.

Healthy individuals were assigned vitamin E (either 60mg, 200mg or 800mg daily) or a placebo for 235 days. Those taking 200mg a day of vitamin E had a sixfold increase in the amount of antibody made in response to hepatitis B and a significantly greater antibody response to tetanus vaccine. The supplements did not affect the antibody response to diphtheria, immunoglobulin concentrations or numbers of T and B cells (JAMA, 1997; 277: 1380-6).

Interestingly, the group taking 800mg of vitamin E a day showed a lower immune response, comparable to those on the 60mg regime, demonstrating that more is not always better.

Results from the Alzheimer’s disease Cooperative Study show that adding vitamin E to treatment with the MAO in hibitor selegiline seems to delay the loss of ability to perform basic daily activities (N Eng J Med, 1997, 336: 1216-22).

For more information see WDDTY vol 5 no 12 and vol 4 no 10.

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