Studies have been contradicting the positive (or not so positive) affects of vitamin E. Some studies have shown that the supplement is responsible for improving health and enhancing brain functions. Other studies, however, attribute increased prostate cancer risks to vitamin E supplements.

The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) recently published yet another study on vitamin E. In the research, patients who suffered mild to moderate cases of Alzheimer’s disease were given high doses of vitamin E supplements. It was found that the mental decline in this group was significantly slower than a control group which was administered with placebo. The research lead author, Dr. Maurice Dysken, said that since the supplement is an antioxidant, it slowed down the progress of the disease.

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In separate studies, the vitamin was found to fight free radicals that damaged nerve cells. Dysken says, however, that the decision to take these supplements shouldn’t be based solely on random information. He emphasized that the research showed benefits from vitamin E to people who had mild to moderate Alzheimer’s; there is no reason to think that healthy young males will need vitamin E supplements.

Vitamin E expert Maret Traber says that the supplement was linked to increased risks of prostate cancer because of a trial in 2011 which was published in the JAMA. This controversy has not yet been resolved and continues to cast doubts on vitamin E. Another research in 2005 added to the vitamin’s notoriety when it was blamed for increased risk of early death. Allegedly, 400+ IU of the supplement increased the risk of death. The research was later found to be flawed, but the doubt of vitamin E’s positivity has been strengthened with this development.

The panic may not have been warranted, but the concern is well-deserved. It’s true that vitamin E is beneficial to the brain, and scientific evidence proves that it delays decline in brain functions for those with Alzheimer’s. However, there are no findings that suggest vitamin E prevents Alzheimer’s.

The real benefit comes from natural vitamin E that you get from real food, such as vegetable oils, avocados, spinach, and nuts, among many other food sources. An Ohio State University nutrition professor, Richard Bruno, RD, says that almonds and most other nuts are very good sources of vitamin E in alpha-tocopherol form. Bruno further states that, since nuts are high in fats which vitamin E requires for its absorption, nuts are the best natural source of the vitamin.