Lack of Vitamin E May Threaten Brain Health

Maret Traber
Maret Traber

IT MAY NOT WAKE YOU UP LIKE CAFFEINE or improve your Sudoku score, but new research suggests that vitamin E plays a critical role in brain function.

Working with zebrafish, a team led by Maret Traber has shown that this micronutrient contributes to adequate levels of DHA-PC, a chemical that is part of the membrane of every brain cell. Fish deficient in vitamin E had lower levels of another compound that helps to shepherd DHA-PC into neurons and to repair cell membranes.

The 1-year-old zebrafish used in this study, and the deficient levels of vitamin E they were given, are equivalent to humans eating a low-vitamin-E diet for a lifetime. In the United States, 96 percent of adult women and 90 percent of men do not receive adequate levels of vitamin E in their diet.

“This research showed that vitamin E is needed to prevent a dramatic loss of a critically important molecule in the brain and helps explain why vitamin E is needed for brain health,” says Traber, who is the Helen P. Rumbel Professor for Micronutrient Research in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences. She is also affiliated with the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State.

The research was supported by the National Institutes of Health and reported in the Journal of Lipid Research.


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