Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Extra Vitamin E: No Benefit, Maybe Harm


Personal Health - Extra Vitamin E - No Benefit, Maybe Harm - NYTimes.com
Here, then, is what we now know about vitamin E from recent randomized, controlled clinical trials, the gold standard of research if the right questions were investigated.

Cardiovascular disease. An early hint of no benefit to the heart came from a 2001 University of Pennsylvania study of 30 healthy men, which found that at doses of 200 to 2,000 I.U.’s, vitamin E did not prevent oxidation of blood fats that can damage arteries. Four years later, the Heart Outcomes Prevention Evaluation trials, which looked at nearly 10,000 patients 55 and older with vascular disease or diabetes, found no heart benefit from taking 400 I.U.’s of vitamin E daily for an average of seven years. In fact, those taking the vitamin were more likely to develop heart failure, which prompted the heart association warning.

A few months later came a report on healthy women. The Women’s Health Study, of nearly 40,000 women 45 and older who were followed for an average of 10 years, found no overall benefit in taking 600 I.U.’s of vitamin E every other day for major cardiovascular events (heart attacks and stroke) or total mortality. There was, however, a 24 percent reduction in cardiovascular deaths.

A fresh report on men was released last November. In it, the Physicians’ Health Study, 14,641 men 50 and older were followed for up to eight years, it was found that 400 I.U.’s of vitamin E every other day had no effect on the incidence of major cardiovascular events, including cardiovascular deaths.

The bottom line of all these reports was that supplements of vitamin E could not be relied upon to protect against heart disease and stroke.

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