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Is Vitamin E Good for the Heart?


"I have been recommending vitamin E for high-risk cardiovascular patients, people I think are at risk for having a (heart attack) or have had one," says David H. Emmert, MD, co-author of the Archives article. "But preliminary results from a new trial don't really look good from the standpoint of protecting diabetic patients [who are also at high risk for having heart disease]." Emmert says he's not sure whether those negative results will translate over to nondiabetics -- and they haven't stopped him from writing prescriptions for vitamin E, at 400 IUs (international units) a day.

For now, he advises patients of the potential benefits and low incidence of side effects with vitamin E, and lets them come to an informed decision. But, he admits taking vitamin E could turn out to be a waste of time and money -- though generic formulations are quite cheap. After reviewing available data for his recent article, Emmert says his conclusion is that medical science hasn't yet reached a conclusion on vitamin E and that more research is needed.

"I was impressed with the studies we looked at enough to recommend it to cardiac patients," says the co-author of the article, Jeffrey T. Kirchner, DO, a family practitioner at the Lancaster General Hospital in Pennsylvania.

"[But] we're still going to preach lifestyle changes. We're still going to harp on the exercise and nonsmoking regimen," he adds.

Vital Information:

  • There are many studies touting the cardioprotective effects of vitamin E, but getting enough of it from your diet would result in consuming too much fat.
  • Vitamin E works by detoxifying free radicals, which cause damage to artery walls.
  • There are no conclusions as to whether everyone can benefit form taking vitamin E supplements or what the appropriate dose should be.

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