Vitamin E and selenium do not prevent dementia in older men

Older men taking the antioxidants for over a decade had the same rate of dementia as those taking placebo, researchers find.

MRI brain scan

Oxidative stress, an imbalance between the production of free radicals and the ability of the body to counteract their harmful effects, has been implicated as a key mechanism in dementia. Consequently, antioxidants have been of interest as a potential treatment for the condition.

A study, published in JAMA Neurology
(online, 20 March 2017), observed 7,540 older men for an average of 5.4 years and a subset of 3,786 men for up to 6.0 additional years. The men received either vitamin E or selenium alone, a combination of both, or a placebo.

The researchers found that the incidence of dementia (325 of 7,338 men; 4.4%) did not differ between the four study groups. They conclude that neither vitamin E nor selenium should be recommended as a preventive agent but identified the inclusion of only men and the relatively short supplement exposure time as key limitations of the study.


[1] Kryscio RJ, Abner EL, Caban-Holt A et al. Association of antioxidant supplement use and dementia in the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease by vitamin E and selenium trial (PREADViSE). JAMA Neurol 2017. doi: 10.1001/jamaneurol.2016.5778

Last updated
Clinical Pharmacist, CP, April 2017, Vol 9, No 4;9(4):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2017.20202489

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