Studies on Vitamin E Cause Confusion

The headlines have been abuzz about vitamin E in recent months. Several newly released studies have drawn controversial conclusions that have concerned the supplement industry and confused consumers.

First came a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. It concluded that consuming 400 IU of vitamin E daily does not prevent heart attack, stroke and cancer and may, in fact, increase the risk of heart failure and premature death.

Next came a Women's Health Study in the New England Journal of Medicine focusing on a daily consumption of 600 IU of vitamin E, with similar conclusions drawn.

In March, a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association also linked 400 IU of vitamin E to an increased risk of congestive heart failure.

This July, another study in JAMA involving 40,000 American women concluded that vitamin E is not likely to prevent heart disease or cancer. On a positive note, however, it said that the antioxidant could lower the risk of heart attack, stroke and cardiovascular death among older women.

Even the Center of Disease Control has recently declared that vitamin E has no proven clinical benefits and may actually be harmful.

What are consumers to make of all this negative press about E? Does this formerly-thought-to-be-heart-healthy antioxidant deserve the bad rap? Are we actually hurting ourselves by taking vitamin E supplements?

The Council for Responsible Nutrition has countered that some of these studies are flawed. The initial study in AIM was a meta-analysis compiled from various investigations on people already at risk for diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease and kidney failure. They claim that extrapolating results from this group to make a statement about the greater population is not valid.

The Dietary Supplement Information Bureau maintains that vitamin E is beneficial for cardiovascular health, diabetes, cancer, aging, pain relief and general health. The Journal of Clinical Nutrition still believes that vitamin E is safe up to 1600IU per day.

July 2005
Source: Nutra-Ingredients USA

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