11.17.2004

Will Vitamin E Kill You?
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Photo credit: CNN International

This story has been much in the headlines over the past few days. Our take after speaking with numerous physicians including some of our advisory board members is that probably more research needs to be done before one could make so definitive a claim. Other studies have (see Google, I have typed in the keywords for you) shown numerous positive benefits. In taking Vitamin E, as in all things in life, the best policy is one of judicious prudence, or moderation. Nevertheless, I am excerpting the story below for your perusal:

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana (Reuters) -- Vitamin E supplements, which millions take in the hope of longer, healthier lives, may do more harm than good, researchers reported on Wednesday.

In fact, people taking high doses of vitamin E may in some cases be more likely to die earlier, although the reasons are not clear, said Dr. Edgar Miller of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, who led the study.

"I think people take vitamin E because they think it is going to make you live longer, but this (study) doesn't support that," Miller told reporters.

The Council for Responsible Nutrition, a trade group for supplement makers, criticized the report.

"This is an unfortunate misdirection of science in an attempt to make something out of nothing for the sake of headlines," said the group's John Hathcock.

Miller and colleagues re-analyzed 19 studies of vitamin E and health between 1993 and 2004. The trials involved more than 136,000 mostly elderly patients in North America, Europe and China.

People who took 200 international units of vitamin E a day or more died at a higher rate during the study, which lasted three years, than people who did not take supplements, they told a meeting of the American Heart Association.

"It's about a 5 percent increased risk at 45 years in the trials pooled together," Miller said.

"That doesn't sound like a lot but if you apply it to 25 percent of the (U.S.) adult population taking vitamin E, that is significant."

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