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Your Mind Could Be 8-9 Years Younger

The Chicago researchers analyzed their data in two different ways - first by looking at the amount of vitamin E from food sources only, and second by considering the total vitamin E intake from both food and supplements. With both approaches, the conclusion was the same: those individuals with the highest intake of vitamin E exhibited the least cognitive decline. Specifically, when subjects in the highest quintile (the highest one-fifth, 20%) of vitamin E intake were compared to those in the lowest quintile, the former group was found to have had a 36% reduction in the rate of cognitive decline compared with the latter group.

The researchers reached this startling conclusion:

Vitamin E intake from foods and supplements was associated with reduced cognitive decline in this older biracial population. . . . The effects on cognitive decline in the highest quintiles of vitamin E intake (total or from foods only) were equivalent to a corresponding decrease in age of 8 to 9 years.

In other words, just by maintaining a high intake of vitamin E from food alone, it was possible to avoid the equivalent of an 8-to-9-year cognitive aging effect caused by a low intake of this vitamin. The supplement users' 33-fold higher intake of vitamin E (in the highest quintile of that group) conferred no additional advantage. Does that mean that supplementation with vitamin E has no value? Certainly not! If you are not in the highest quintile of vitamin E intake from food alone (and 80% of the population is, by definition, not in that quintile), supplementation would have definite value. Besides, there is much more to vitamin E than its effect on cognitive function, as we will see below.

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