Dangers of Vit. E Supplementation



I love how the CNN version of these findings left alot of the minor details out -
Things such as:

The high-dose trials were small and their participants were over 60 and tended to have chronic health problems such as heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and kidney failure. And because most of the studies did not note the cause of death, the authors say they cannot conclude anything about the underlying mechanism.

That, and that some of the studies that were reviewed were old or flawed.


Actually this link provides an interesting rebuttal of these findings…


It also would have been nice to see a difference between synthetic and naturally occuring forms of Vit E.

The mechanism was clear! Some of the elderly subjects accidentally dropped the vit E capsules on the floor, then stepped on them, releasing the oil, causing them to slip and fall.

Actually, some months ago Dr. Hollis did raise issues about Vitamin E being consumed in large quantities without adequate CoQ-10 intake (which reduces oxidized Vitamin E).

In addition, there have been several studies in the past which have linked large intakes of specific antioxidant supplements (C, E, beta carotene) with increased risk of lung cancer. This might be due to the absence of other chemicals (i.e. phytochemicals) that naturally occur in whole foods along with the better known antioxidants.

I’m just being a wise-guy because of the nature of the studies and the sensationalizing that goes on. The problem is that people in general have the worst eating habits in history today and vitamins offer the chance of some mitigation, yet they are attacked but not the root causers, as they are the advertizers on TV.

Within days of the international regulatory body called CODEX notifying the world that it intends to establish a worldwide maximum dosagelimit on vitamin supplements, headlines news stories warned that high-dose vitamin E supplements “increase the risk of dying.” [Washington Post Nov. 10, 2004] The report, emanating from a meeting of cardiologists at the American Heart Association meeting in New Orleans, falsely claims high-dose vitamin E (400 IU or more) may increase the risk of death by 5 percent. This false conclusion was made after analysis of 19 studies involving 136,000 people (to be published in the January 4, 2005 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine).

The 5 percent figure is a relative increase, not a hard number (not a 5 out of 100 increase). High-dose vitamin E does not significantly increase, nor does it decrease, mortality rates. Furthermore, people with cardiovascular disease are more likely to be taking vitamin E supplements, which skews the statistics. A University of North Carolina study of 45,748 participants, aged 50 to 75 years, found that supplement use is higher among people who are battling chronic health conditions and the strongest association was for cardiovascular disease with supplemental vitamin E. [Am Journal Preventive Medicine 24:43-51, 2003]

Copyright 2004 Bill Sardi

Examine The Data For Yourself

Now that Americans have been besieged with the report that high-dose vitamin E supplements may increase the risk of death, one wonders how millions of people were misled into taking vitamin E pills. Are you really at an increased risk of dying if you take 400 international units or more of vitamin E? Examine the evidence for yourself.

Here are the analytical charts, along with direct wording from the vitamin E study, as published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. The researchers examined 19 different studies where vitamin E supplements were used. The total number of participants in these 19 studies was 135,967, with 12,504 deaths from all causes. The people in the study ranged in age from 47 to 84 years. The average death risk in the control groups that did not take vitamin E supplements was 1022 per 10,000 persons. This figure rose by 10 deaths, to 1032 per 10,000, among users of high-dose (more than 400 IU) of vitamin E.

The authors concluded that “Overall, vitamin E supplementation did not affect all-cause mortality.” That is not what you heard in televised news reports or in the newspapers. What you heard was there is a 5 to 10 percent (5 to 10 in 100) increased risk of dying from taking high-dose vitamin E supplements. The way health statisticians tabulate their data is to list the relative difference in risk. So in this case the risk for the control group that didn’t vitamin E supplement pills is listed as 1.00, and the relative risk of dying for people taking low-dose vitamin E supplements was 0.98 and for high-dose vitamin E supplements 1.04. This appears as a 6% relative difference, but in hard numbers the risk rose by 10 in 10,000 persons, or 1 in 1000 (about 1/10th of one percent). This is what health statisticians say is “statistically significant.”

There are biases and underlying factors in many published medical reports. This report was no exception. The authors of the study indicate, among the 19 studies they examined, “Most of the trials examined targeted populations at high risk for a chronic disease, most often coronary heart disease.” This fact obviously skewed the results. A recent study, the Vitamins and Lifestyle (VITAL) study, conducted among 45,748 participants ranging in age from 50 to 75 years, revealed that persons with cardiovascular disease are more likely to be taking vitamin E supplements. [American Journal Preventive Medicine 24: 43-51, 2003] People who have heart and blood vessel disease are at a greater risk of dying and are more likely to take high-dose vitamin E supplements.

Here are the charts from the study for your examination. The authors show that there is a very, very slight increased risk when comparing low-dose to high-dose vitamin E supplements, but remember the people with heart and blood vessel disease are more likely to be taking these high doses.

Meta-Analysis: High-Dosage Vitamin E Supplementation May Increase All-Cause Mortality Edgar R. Miller III, MD, et al., Annals Internal Medicine, January 4, 2005, Volume 142.

In the chart above the solid line moves from low-dose vitamin E consumption on the left to high-dose vitamin E on the right. The circles and dots represent various published studies of vitamin E supplements. The chart indicates anything above zero is potentially “harmful.” If this chart were calibrated to list risk by percent (so many among 100 people), the line would be absolutely flat. But the chart calculates in 1/1000th of one percent. See the markings on the left (0.01, 0.02, etc.). Conclusion: high-dose vitamin E supplements are neither harmful nor beneficial.

Bill Sardi, Knowledge of Health, Inc, Copyright 2004

The author of the study was on CNN this AM and made the arguement (in the 20sec he got!) that high dose Vit E might strip away other anti-oxidants and suggested that a reasonable dose for Vit E was around 20 to 45mg- the normal diet yielding 10mg. Of course, the idiot reporter cut him off and concluded for him that you should eat broccoli instead of taking vitamins.

I thought they would have at least said to eat spinach for strong muscles like Popeye !!!

I remember an episode of 60 mins a year ago. I think it was 60 mins or Canada’s version of it, where they interviewed a Doctor that would write articles for the New England Journal of medicine and basically make stuff up. He would promote certain drugs with absolutely no substance behind them. It was unreal.

I guess there were too many people taking Vit E and the US government and their Drug company buddies wanted in on the action so maybe instead of supplementing with a great vitamin, they’ll just get a perscription for a drug.

Yes, the guy’s eyes went up when she went off about Broccoli. When there’s this much money at stake, the powers that be would like nothing better than to make it prescription only, or at least come out with a prescription alternative after scaring everyone away!