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Diabetic Kids May Benefit From Daily Vitamin E

WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Merle Diamond, MD

Sept. 26, 2000 -- It's been speculated that vitamin E does many good things for the body, and here's yet another. Vitamin E supplements may protect children with type 1 diabetes from damage to their blood vessels that is common with this disease, according to a study that appears in the September issue of the journal Diabetes Care.

Researchers found that when children were given vitamin E supplements each day, in a relatively small dose of 100 IU per day for three months, levels of glutathione increased. This is good news because glutathione provides natural protection against the toxic effects of free radicals, the body's natural but harmful byproducts of daily living that damage cells. Glutathione levels can be low in diabetics, and diabetics are also more susceptible to damage from these substances. Free radicals have also been implicated in other diseases including hardening of the arteries, cataracts, Parkinson's disease, and Alzheimer's disease.

The investigators also found evidence that in the diabetic children who received the vitamin E supplements, there was indeed less damage to cells.

In the case of vitamin E, supplements may be best, Steven P. Petrosino, PhD, professor of nutrition at LaSalle University in Mandeville, La., tells WebMD. "If the vitamin can be gotten from food, it's best to do it that way. But with vitamin E, you'd have to eat 15 to 20 pounds of wheat germ to get these amounts." Petrosino is also a member of a NIH committee on heart disease.

However, he cautions, it's important for parents to discuss any kind of vitamin supplementation they may give their children with their child's pediatrician. Pediatricians can offer valuable advice about which supplements may be the best, especially in diabetic children.

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