Vitamin supplements have become a subject of controversy as of late, as medical experts and laypeople alike argue over whether vitamin pills are actually beneficial, or if they’re a waste of money.
Though two new recent studies point to vitamin supplements as having no effect on cardiovascular health and cognitive ability, more studies continue to back up the various positive effects of taking vitamin supplements. A new study suggests that the entire family of Vitamin E — which includes eight different natural forms — can prevent memory disorders.
Published in Experimental Gerontology, the study not only analyzed the effects of aplha-tocopherol, which is a common form of Vitamin E used in supplements, but also reviewed eight different natural forms of the vitamin, which all have antioxidants, the press release states. The eight chemical forms include alpha-, beta-, gamma-, and delta-tocopherol as well as alpha-, beta-, gamma-, and delta-tocotrienol. They have different levels of biological activity, the Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS) states.
There were some 140 participants in the study, all of whom were Finnish people over the age of 65. Over the course of eight years, researchers found that higher levels of vitamin E prevented some forms of mental disorders. They tested the levels of vitamin E in the participants' serum — the component in blood that consists of plasma but does not contain white or red blood cells.
The ability of Vitamin E to fight against memory disorders isn’t new, as another study published recently found that it slowed cognitive decline in patients with moderate Alzheimer’s. In that study, “the placebo group lost approximately three units more on the [psychological] inventory than the [other group],” lead investigator Maurice W. Dysken wrote in a paper. “A loss of this magnitude could translate into either the complete loss of being able to dress or bath independently, for example, or losing independence on any three different [tests].”
Vitamin E is naturally an antioxidant and is also essential in immune function. The ODS lists different types of foods that contain Vitamin E, which includes sunflower seeds, almonds, hazelnuts, peanut butter, corn oil, spinach, broccoli, soybeans, mango, and tomato. According to the ODS, many studies have linked Vitamin E to preventing chronic diseases, such as coronary heart disease, cancer, and eye disorders; however, plenty of other studies have also found that Vitamin E doesn’t do much to prevent these ailments, depending on how each study was conducted.
Can Vitamins Be Dangerous?
Though two studies were published in 2013 that pointed to vitamin supplements being useless, another “comeback” study done at the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University claimed the anti-vitamin sentiments were bogus. "If a person already has adequate amounts of a particular vitamin or nutrient, then a supplement will probably provide little or no benefit," director of the Linus Pauling Institute Professor Balz Frei said. "That's common sense. But most of our supposedly scientific studies take results from people with good diets and healthy lifestyles and use them to conclude that supplements are of no value to anyone… It’s fine to tell people to eat better, but it’s foolish to suggest that a multivitamin, which costs a nickel a day, is a bad idea.”