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Vitamin E protects the heart

Higher doses of vitamin E protected against heart disease in those with high cholesterol; Type 2 diabetics who took vitamin E had fewer heart attacks and strokes; and vitamin E reduced DNA damage in adults, in four new studies.

In a high cholesterol study, doctors noted that earlier vitamin E studies were poorly designed, using only one dose and measuring a single result, such as heart attack. In the first of two trials, researchers recruited seven women and one man, average age 34, with high cholesterol from diet and lifestyle—not from family history—who were at high risk for heart attack. Participants took 3,200 IU of alpha-tocopherol vitamin E per day for 20 weeks. Scientists measured F2 isoprostanes—a sign of damaged fat cells and a risk factor for heart disease—which decreased -continuously for 16 weeks.

In the second trial, 35 participants took 100, 200, 400, 800, 1,600 or 3,200 IU of vitamin E per day for 16 weeks. As the dose of vitamin E increased, levels of F2 isoprostanes decreased, by 35% at 1,600 IU and by 49% at 3,200 IU. 

In a diabetes study, researchers recruited 1,434 Type 2 diabetics, aged 55 or older who, due to having a weak antioxidant gene (Haptoglobin 2-2), were more likely than other diabetics to go blind or have heart or kidney disease. Participants took 400 IU of vitamin E per day or a placebo for 18 months. Compared to placebo, those who took vitamin E were 53% less likely to have a heart attack, stroke or to die from heart disease, a result so significant that researchers stopped the multi-year trial early.

In a DNA study, doctors suggested that free radicals, or toxic molecules, are the leading cause of physical aging. Researchers recruited 64 men and women, aged 37 to 78, who took 160 mg of vitamin E (tocotrienol) per day or a placebo for six months. After three and six months, compared to placebo, the vitamin E group had significantly less DNA damage. Doctors said vitamin E helped neutralize free radicals, allowing cells to repair themselves. 

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