E Gets an 'A' at Lowering Risk of Diabetes Complications
But members of the repair crew may do more harm than good, because they flock to the injury site in droves and begin to cover it over to form what is known as plaque, which is a bit like the scabs that cover skin wounds. The plaque begins to trap cholesterol, fibers, and other substances from the blood, and eventually can grow large enough to completely block the flow of blood to the heart, brain, or other vital organs.
The researchers found that in both diabetics and nondiabetics, high doses of vitamin E greatly decreased the release of damaging substances and chemicals and reduced the amount of the repair cells that stick to blood vessel walls.
And although some researchers worry that high-dose vitamin E supplements may be harmful, the researchers found no evidence of side effects throughout the three-month study.
The current study dovetails neatly with one reported by George L. King, MD, and colleagues at Harvard Medical School, which found that high-dose E is effective at preventing and may even help to reverse diabetes complications in small blood vessels within the eyes and kidneys in people with type 1 diabetes.
"The assumption here is that its only effect is as an antioxidant, but there's quite a bit of data, which we and others have shown, that vitamin E also has effects on other systems," King says, adding that what is clearly needed is a large, lengthy study of high-dose vitamin E to test this controversy.
For more information from WebMD, visit our Diseases and Conditions Diabetes page.