Use of Vitamin E and C Supplements for the Prevention of Cognitive Decline

Ann Pharmacother. 2017 Feb;51(2):118-124. doi: 10.1177/1060028016673072. Epub 2016 Oct 5.


Background: There are few studies of the association between the use of antioxidant vitamin supplements and the risk of Alzheimer's disease (AD). Cognitive decline is generally viewed as part of the continuum between normal aging and AD.

Objective: To evaluate whether the use of vitamin E and C supplements is associated with reduced risks of cognitive impairment, not dementia (CIND), AD, or all-cause dementia in a representative sample of older persons ≥65 years old.

Methods: Data from the Canadian Study of Health and Aging (1991-2002), a cohort study of dementia including 3 evaluation waves at 5-yearly intervals, were used. Exposure to vitamins E and C was self-reported at baseline in a risk factor questionnaire and/or in a clinical examination.

Results: The data set included 5269 individuals. Compared with those not taking vitamin supplements, the age-, sex-, and education-adjusted hazard ratios of CIND, AD, and all-cause dementia were, respectively, 0.77 (95% CI = 0.60-0.98), 0.60 (95% CI = 0.42-0.86), and 0.62 (95% CI = 0.46-0.83) for those taking vitamin E and/or C supplements. Results remained significant in fully adjusted models except for CIND. Similar results were observed when vitamins were analyzed separately.

Conclusions: This analysis suggests that the use of vitamin E and C supplements is associated with a reduced risk of cognitive decline. Further investigations are needed to determine their value as a primary prevention strategy.

Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; antioxidants; cognition; elderly; observational study; vitamin supplement.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aging / drug effects
  • Aging / psychology
  • Alzheimer Disease / prevention & control*
  • Antioxidants / administration & dosage
  • Antioxidants / therapeutic use*
  • Ascorbic Acid / administration & dosage
  • Ascorbic Acid / therapeutic use*
  • Canada
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / prevention & control*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Dementia / drug therapy
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Vitamin E / administration & dosage
  • Vitamin E / therapeutic use*


  • Antioxidants
  • Vitamin E
  • Ascorbic Acid