Vitamin E may help maintain levels of DHA in the brain, says a new study with zebrafish funded by the National Institutes of Health.
Scientists from Oregon State University in Corvallis report that zebrafish fed a diet without vitamin E for nine months had about 30% less of a forma of DHA known as DHA-PC, a component of the brain cell membrane.
In addition, the vitamin E deficient fish had higher levels of hydroxy-DHA-PC, which can form after exposure to free radicals.
«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,», said lead researcher Dr Maret Traber, in an article on the university’s website.
The data, published in the Journal of Lipid Research, aslo indicated that the vitamin E deficient fish had lower levels of lysophospholipids, compounds that join with Vitamin E to carry DHA into the brain.
«You can’t build a house without the necessary materials,» added Dr Traber. «In a sense, if vitamin E is inadequate, we’re cutting by more than half the amount of materials with which we can build and maintain the brain.»
Vitamin E and brain health
Vitamin E is a family of eight separate but related molecules: four tocopherols (alpha, beta, gamma, delta) and four tocotrienols (alpha, beta, gamma, delta). The majority of the science in the past has looked at vitamin E in the alpharocopherol form in the context of cadiovascular disease, cancer, and eye disease.
The new study adds to a growing body of science supporting the potential brain health benefits of the vitamin.