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Doses of vitamin E may slow the aging of the human immune and central nervous systems and could have a role to play in slowing the march of debilitating diseases such as Alz-heimer's, scientists reported Monday.

"A lot of vitamin knowledge tends to be anecdotal, almost old wives' tales," said Dr. Marguerite Kay, senior investigator for a study of vitamin E. "But now we have actually a sensible molecular base to show that (vitamin E) is in fact doing a number of good things. Now we have clinical proof."Kay, whose findings were published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, said vitamin E protects a crucial protein that acts as a marker for changes in both the immune and nervous systems.

"It would imply that vitamin E could help in Alzheimer's protection," Kay told Reuters of her findings in a telephone interview from the University of Arizona.

Vitamin E, which can be found in such foods as okra and broccoli, can be taken as a supplement but dosage should not exceed 800 mg a day, Kay said.