The National Institutes of Health, commenting on "current issues and controversies about Vitamin E," says that preliminary research has led to a widely-held belief that Vitamin E can help prevent or delay coronary heart disease, and that a higher intake of Vitamin E has been associated with a decreased incidence of both prostate cancer and
On Vitamin E and heart disease, NIH's Clinical Nutrition Center in its
Office of Dietary Supplements says:
- "Researchers are fairly certain that oxidative modification of LDL
cholesterol (sometimes called 'bad' cholesterol) promotes blockages in
coronary arteries that may lead to atherosclerosis and heart attacks.
- "Vitamin E may help prevent or delay coronary heart disease by limiting
the oxidation of LDL cholesterol. Vitamin E also may help prevent the
formation of blood clots, which could lead to a heart attack," the report
said, and added:
- "Observational studies have associated lower rates of heart disease with
higher Vitamin E intake. A study of approximately 90,000 nurses suggested that
the incidence of heart disease was 30 percent to 40 percent lower among nurses
with the higher intake of Vitamin E from diet and supplements," the NIH paper
In the nurses' study, the range of Vitamin E intake from both diet and
supplements had a high of 1,000 International Units (IU), or the equivalent of
1,500 milligrams. Median intake was 208 IU.
The NIH paper noted, however, that "randomized clinical trials raise
questions about the role of Vitamin E supplements in heart disease," but that
studies are continuing to determine whether a longer duration of intervention
with Vitamin E supplements can provide protection against cardiovascular
On Vitamin E and cancer, the NIH report said:
- "Antioxidants such as Vitamin E help protect against the damaging effects
of free radicals, which may contribute to the development of chronic diseases
such as cancer.
- " ... Some evidence associated higher intake of Vitamin E with a decreased
incidence of prostate cancer and breast cancer. There is evidence that Vitamin
E may reduce the size of cysts in women with fibrocystic breast disease, which
is a risk factor for breast cancer."
On Vitamin E and cataracts, the report said:
- "Observational studies have found that lens clarity, which is used to
diagnose cataracts, was better in regular users of Vitamin E supplements and
in persons with higher blood levels of Vitamin E."