High Doses of Antioxidants May Not Help Alzheimer’s, Could Hasten Mental Deterioration

High Doses of Antioxidants May Not Help Alzheimer's, Could Hasten Mental DeteriorationAlthough researchers once encouraged doctors to treat Alzheimer's with large doses of antioxidants, a new study suggests a mixture of vitamins E and C and alpha-lipoic acid not only do not have an effect on certain indicators of the disease, but they could even speed up the process of mental decline, HealthDay reports.

"The benefit on oxidative stress in the brain was small and is of unclear significance," said lead researcher Dr. Douglas Galasko, a neurosciences professor at the University of California, San Diego. "Patients did not show cognitive improvement in this short-term study; in fact, there was a slight worsening on one test of cognition in patients who received the antioxidant combination."

Galasko said that the medical study suggests doctors should not support using the combination of antioxidants once a diagnosis of Alzheimer's has been made.

"If antioxidants continue to be tested against Alzheimer's disease, newer approaches or drugs may be needed," he added.

The study was published in a recent issue of the Archives of Neurology. In the research, Galasko and his team provided antioxidant supplements to 78 patients who had been diagnosed with the disease. Among the different groups that were studied, there was no difference in markers related to Alzheimer's, however vitamin E alone has showed improvements in past studies.

"This should be a caution to the supplement manufacturers who typically sell products throwing in some mix of what seems like a great group of sensible antioxidants," Galasko concluded.

According to the Alzheimer's Association, 5.4 million Americans are currently living with Alzheimer's disease, and it is the sixth-leading cause of death in the U.S. Payments for its care are expected to be roughly $200 billion in 2012.