Is Vitamin E Making A Comeback?

In recent months, some rather well controlled studies have been published in peer-reviewed journals relating to the health benefits of vitamin E. The first study that we will discuss comes out of Harvard Medical School and evaluated the benefits of 600 mg of vitamin E every other day versus placebo for an average period of 10 years. The study monitored almost 39,876 women age 45 or older and evaluated their risk of serious, life-threatening blood clots.

Overall, vitamin E decreased the risk of life-threatening blood clots by 21%. These included dangerous clots within the legs and lungs. Some people are at higher risk of developing these clots. Women who were at high risk of blood clot (those who had a blood clot prior to starting the study) enjoyed a 44% decreased risk of future blood clots compared to their placebo counterparts. In addition, subjects who took vitamin E enjoyed an 8% decrease in risk of bleeding in the brain, a condition called hemorrhagic stroke; this was an interesting and unexpected finding. (Circulation. 2007;116:1497-1503)

Another study from Harvard School of Public Health evaluated 600 IU of natural vitamin E, 500 mg of vitamin C and 50 mg of beta carotene on risk of cardiovascular disease. At the end of the nine and a half year study the subjects who took their vitamin E enjoyed an 11% decrease in risk of combined cardiovascular event, including heart attack and stroke. When the researchers looked at the people who were nearly flawless with taking their vitamin E they saw a 22% decrease in heart attack risk, a 27% decrease in stroke risk and a 9 % decrease in risk of overall death. People who took both vitamin E and C together on a consistent basis enjoyed a 31% decreased risk of stroke while beta carotene had little or no benefit during the study. (Archives of Internal Medicine, 2007;167:1610-1618)
Given these studies, it appears that natural vitamin E is not the monster that it was made out to be by the press. Other recent research has demonstrated other important facts:

Vitamin E may protect against Alzheimers disease. (JAMA, 2002;287:3230-3237)
Vitamin E may protect against Lou Gehrig’s Disease (Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry, 2007,78:367-371)
Vitamin E may reduce the risk of advanced prostate cancer by 71% (Journal of the National Cancer Institute,2006;98:245-254)

(This review is a summary of the report by Dr. Jack Challem’s The Nutrition Reporter newsletter)

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