Vitamin E

Q: Is supplemental vitamin E helpful in the treatment or prevention of cardiovascular disease (especially strokes and heart attacks)?

A: There has been an ongoing debate about this issue for a number of years now, with conflicting advice being offered to date. However, a recent study was done using a computerized search of seven large trials that studied the effectiveness of vitamin E in the treatment and prevention of strokes and heart attacks.

Six of the seven trials showed no significant benefit of supplemental vitamin E on the outcome of strokes, heart attacks, and cardiovascular disease in general. Unfortunately, many people are being encouraged to spend money on a treatment that has not been shown to be beneficial. Furthermore, the use of such a treatment that is without benefit, and which is readily available over the counter, may detract from the use of proven remedies. This may also lead to a false sense of security, and the failure to implement proven lifestyle changes that are beneficial.

It is thought that supplemental vitamin E reduces the healthy high-density lipoprotein (HDL-2), which is itself protective against cardiovascular disease. It is also important to note that this analysis refers only to supplemental vitamin E; it does not discourage the consumption of foods rich in antioxidants (including vitamin E) that have been shown to be of significant benefit in cardiovascular health.

This is, again, a lesson in using all things good in moderation. Sometimes this is more difficult than avoiding all things harmful!