Taking a daily dose of vitamin E could help to slow down the progression of dementia, it has been claimed.
A US study published in the JAMA journal found that people with mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease had a lower rate of decline if they took the vitamin compared to a group which were given a placebo pill.
In total 613 people took part in the research led by Dr Maurice Dysken of the Minneapolis VA Health Care System.
They were able to carry out everyday tasks for longer and needed less help from carers, say US researchers. They were given either vitamin E (also known as tocopherol), a dementia drug called memantine, a combination of vitamin E and mematine or a dummy drug.
Over the course of two years, their ability to perform everyday tasks such as dressing and washing were monitored and those taking the vitamin were found to perform 19 per cent better than those prescribed the placebo.
Dr Dysken said: "These findings suggest that alpha tocopherol is beneficial in mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease by slowing functional decline and decreasing caregiver burden."
The study's publication has been welcomed by both the Alzheimer's Society and Alzheimer's Research UK.
However, both said that it is too early to recommend vitamin E as a treatment for the cognitive condition and anyone concerned about their intake of vitamins or their diet should discuss the matter with their doctor.
At present, an estimated 820,000 are living in the UK with some form of dementia and that number is expected to rise above the one million mark by 2021 unless a significant breakthrough in research is made.
Last month, Dr Eric Karran of Alzheimer's Research UK stated that a wonder drug capable of greatly slowing the onset of dementia could be available to patients within the next five years.
He feels that a medication known as solanezumab, which has performed well in clinical trials, could be made into a jab that could be given by GPs.