Vitamin E In The Press

Asthma risk for pregnant women ?lacking vitamin E'

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Young children are more likely to develop asthma if their mothers lacked vitamin E while pregnant, a study has shown.

Researchers discovered the link after monitoring 1,253 mothers and children over five years. Mothers were placed in five categories according to their vitamin E intake during pregnancy. Children born to women in the bottom and top brackets of vitamin E consumption were compared.

Those in the first group had more than a five-fold higher risk of displaying early asthma symptoms by their fifth birthday. Early vitamin E exposure appeared to influence lung function independently of allergy. In later pregnancy, allergic airway inflammation was associated with vitamin E deficiency.

Study leader Dr Graham Devereux, from the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, said: "This study has shown that foods rich in vitamin E may influence the development of childhood asthma and a diet low in foods containing vitamin E during pregnancy is associated with increased asthma and reduced lung function in children at the age of five years.

"It is possible that declining intake of vitamin E in the last 50 years may have contributed to the increase in asthma in children.

"The potential importance of this study is that in the future it may be possible to reduce the risk of asthma in children by changing the diet of mothers during pregnancy. However, further work needs to be carried out before specific advice can be given to pregnant mothers."

Dietary vitamin E sources included vegetable oils, margarine, wheat germ, nuts and sunflower seeds.

A previous study on the same group of children showed higher rates of wheezing in two-year-olds whose mothers' vitamin E intake during pregnancy was relatively low.

The findings were reported today in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Asthma is the most common long-term childhood condition in the UK, affecting a total of 1.1 million British youngsters.

Dr Lyn Smurthwaite, research development manager at Asthma UK, which funded the study, said: "Eating a healthy, balanced diet at any time, but especially during pregnancy, makes sense and this study suggests simple modifications in a pregnant mother's diet may help protect her child from developing asthma by the age of five."


Vitamin E could cut Alzheimer's risk

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A diet rich in nuts, seeds and olive oil may stave off the risk of Alzheimer's disease, scientists claim. They say food high in vitamin E could prevent or slow down the onset of the degenerative brain condition.

Vitamin E - found in almonds, peanuts, avocados, broccoli and wheatgerm - is thought to fight free radicals, toxins that damage cells.

Experts believe antioxidants in the vitamin can block the toxins, which occur naturally. They say we should all eat 15 milligrams of vitamin E a day. Twenty hazelnuts would provide a third of this - as would three tablespoons of olive oil. Vitamin E supplement pills do not provide the same benefits, says a report today in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Studies suggest a build-up of free radicals in the brain is linked to mental decline in old age and the development of Alzheimer's, which affects 500,000 people in the UK. Scientists in Chicago studied the diets of 815 people over 65. After four years, 131 had Alzheimer's. But those with the highest vitamin E intake were 67 per cent less likely to develop the disease.

Researcher Dr Neil Buckholtz, of the U.S. National Institute on Aging, said: 'The only way this can really be tested is through clinical trials now underway. These will help determine whether vitamin E can prevent the development of mild cognitive impairment.'

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