Vitamin E Supplemets Florence AL
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Alternative Medicine Cabinet - Are You Putting Too Much Faith in Vitamin E?
By Catherine Guthrie
No question, $770 million is a lot of money to blow on a vitamin. That’s how much Americans spent on vitamin E in 2001, an amount that put it squarely on top of supplement sales charts. But if you’re relying on vitamin E to protect against heart problems, recent evidence suggests you may be wasting your money.
That’s right. Since 2000, several important studies have cast serious doubt on vitamin E’s heart-protecting abilities. In fact, some of the nation’s top heart researchers are embroiled right now in a hot debate over whether or not vitamin E supplements are really worth taking. So, should you invest in some other pill instead?
It’s not so clear. There may well be reason to hedge your bets on the heart front. And provocative new studies show the nutrient may have power against some other dread diseases, particularly Alzheimer’s disease and prostate cancer. Whatever you decide, it’s certainly time to pay greater attention to what’s on your plate: The new research suggests the vitamin E you get from food may be more effective than what’s in a supplement.
Here’s the scoop.
Supplements and heart disease
Vitamin E’s glowing reputation has rested on several large observational studies, in which people’s health profiles were correlated with what they said they ate and what supplements they took over a given period of time. Such studies cannot definitively establish direct cause-and-effect, but they have repeatedly suggested that vitamin E supplements curb heart attacks and deaths due to heart disease by an admirable 40 percent.
The notion makes sense, given that vitamin E is the body’s most powerful antioxidant. It’s a blood thinner, making platelets less likely to clump together and cause a heart attack; it soothes blood vessel inflammation, an early precursor to heart trouble; and to top it off, the nutrient guards against narrowing of the arteries by curbing production of LDL, or bad cholesterol.
Still, the vitamin’s cardiac credentials sagged when experts started studying it in a more direct way. Recently scientists have conducted a number of clinical trials, in which some people were asked to take vitamin E while others got a dummy pill, and the volunteers’ heart health was compared after a number of years. This is where vitamin E failed miserably.
One of its most infamous flops was recounted in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2000. Researchers recruited more than 9,000 heart disease sufferers. Half received 400 IUs of vitamin E daily; the other half unknowingly downed sugar pills. Four years later, the number of heart attacks, strokes, and deaths from heart disease in the two groups was indistinguishable. Vitamin E had seemingly provided no protective advantage whatsoever.
A more recent—and even harsher—blow came last November when the Journal of the American Medical Association published results from a trial designed to measure whether hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and antioxidant supplements, ...
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