- NAMASTE AND WELCOME TO THE WAY UP FREE ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE NEWSLETTER
FOR WHICH YOU HAVE SUBSCRIBED!
- The topic this time is:
WHAT IS THE TRUTH ABOUT VITAMIN E?
- It was difficult to avoid hearing about the November 2004 sensationalized
mass press release on the meta-analysis of some previous
Vitamin E studies published over the last 11 years. This engendered
alarm in many sincere health seekers who started phoning and emailing
me with questions. No doubt thousands of people have responded to this
news by erroneously decreasing their vitamin supplementation.
So the bottom line effect of the way this study was distorted and handled
is detrimental to the general public.
The Headline for the study was High Dosage Vitamin E Supplementation May Increase All-Cause Mortality and should be avoided---high dosage meaning greater than 400 IU/day. Since there are more than 2000 studies on Vitamin E, most of them favorable, this news was somewhat surprising.
So lets look at this Meta-analysis of Vitamin E studies.
First of all, meta-analysis is a controversial research tool and technique
- Researchers for the John Hopkins School of Public Health study decided
to specifically look to see if high dose Vitamin E significantly
increased total mortality. They undertook a meta-analysis which
is a review of other studies, pooling them together and looking for
They only wanted to review randomized controlled trials with follow
up longer than 1 year and which included mortality information on death
from any cause during the evaluation timeline. Thirty
six of the few thousand studies met their criteria. But then they
excluded 12 of those 36 because there were fewer than 10 deaths
in those trials. To
my way of thinking,
this was major error number 1 and it produced a skewed statistical
There is nothing like excluding from your analysis those studies which
dont seem to support your hypothesis and selectively including
what supports your view. Though including the 12 omitted studies
would have only increased the death number by less than 10, the total
number of subjects in the meta-analysis would likely have been increased
greatly. This would have changed the marginal statistics
to who knows what
but different, because there would be more people
and less deaths. The questionable selection process alone invalidates
the results as far as I am concerned because they eliminated a possibly
positive response group. Additionally, the excluded studies were obviously
done on healthier people. They also excluded 5 other studies where
the mortality data was not clear. So they ended up analyzing 19
trials, of the 36 originally suitable studies.
These researchers only focused on the issue of death in an elderly
ill population and ignored some of the positive findings from the studies
Interestingly, a sentence in the study says Overall, Vitamin
E supplementation did not affect all- cause mortality They
further stated , The possibility of a small mortality benefit
with low-dosage vitamin E supplementation also deserves comment. The
effect of vitamin E in low-dosage studies, however, must be interpreted
with caution because these studies were often performed in malnourished
populations or used other vitamins and minerals in combination with
vitamin E. Further research is needed to determine whether low-dosage
vitamin E supplementation is beneficial in western populations.
Give me a break
are they suggesting the healthier populations in
the low-dose studies were more malnourished and in worse shape than
the Alzheimers, Parkinsons, kidney failure, and heart
disease, age-related macular degeneration patients of the higher
Though they suggest interpreting beneficial results with caution,
did we see any caution in their spurious interpretation and recommendations
about the results they may have engineered? Since the participants
in the high dose E studies suffered from severe illnesses they cautioned,
Trials that tested high dosages involved adults with chronic diseases,
and these findings may not be generalizable to healthy adults.
And again, they said, We could not evaluate the generalizablity
of our findings to healthy adult populations. After which
they proceeded to do so! Can we detect politicization in their
statement, Policymaking bodies, which currently do not recommend
antioxidant vitamin supplement use to the general population should
also caution the public against the use of high-dosage vitamin E supplementation
use of any high-dosage vitamin supplements should be discouraged until
evidence of efficacy is documented from appropriately designed clinical
trials. What about their design? What about their generalization
to ALL supplements, many of which have been exceedingly studied.
Do you detect bias yet??
Roche participated in the funding and we are aware of the competition
between the pharmaceutical and nutriceutical industries.
There are those who believe this sort of scientific engineering
is for the ultimate purpose of justifying a world effort to limit the
doses in vitamins to minimum amounts. You can search this under
the term Codex. I would like to not believe this, but it makes
one wonder and the researchers in this analysis involved Spain, Scotland,
Norway, The United Kingdom, and The United States. In the Washington
Post Nov. 10,2004 we can read Within days of the international
regulatory body called CODEX notifying the world that it intends to
establish a worldwide maximum dosage limit on vitamin supplements, headlines
news stories warned that high-dose vitamin E supplements "increase
the risk of dying."
- Ive always wondered why then, is there not a call for
policymaking bodies to restrict or to ban cigarettes, alcohol, coffee,
sugar, white flour products, environmental chemicals and all items known
to contribute to mortality? Why do they persist in targeting the
You guessed it.
Even though I obviously question the selection process of this study,
lets go with their findings. The high dose vitamin E group
had a 5% overall mortality increase over the control group. If
this were true, what could explain these findings?
Vitamin E is an important antioxidant. Possibly, high doses of vitamin
E in the absence of other important nutrients acts to disrupt
the natural balance of antioxidants increasing the vulnerability to
oxidative damage. Antioxidants function together in the body in a complex
network of interactions. Most antioxidants require partner antioxidants
for more efficient functioning. Any single antioxidant may be
less effective or not effective at all in the absence of a supporting
cast. Vitamins C, E, Alpha-lipoic acid, Selenium, Co Enzyme Q10, Glutathione
and Vitamin B2 for instance coexist within a self-perpetuating cascade
working together to regenerate antioxidant function. A significant
excess of any of these over the others may produce a malfunctioning
system and actually stimulate oxidation ( the production of free radicals).
Synergists to Vitamin E are: Vitamin A, B6, B12, Folic acid, Estradiol,
Testosterone, Zinc, Selenium, and Vitamin C
A basic issue I have with a number of nutrient studies is that
the researchers administer and study a single nutrient when that is
not how nature works. In foods multiple nutrients exist and act
together synergistically to achieve benefits. In some case taking
high doses of a single nutrient without also taking a good foundational
multivitamin mineral, can actually create depletion of other nutrients.
I clearly make this point on our web site by saying Always take a good potent multi-vitamin mineral before
adding any additional supplementation. Sometimes the multivitamin mineral alone will give you the results you desire.
Testing a single nutrient by itself especially in a very ill likely
highly depleted population is irresponsible and flawed science.
This would be analogous to giving someone only one food repeatedly without
any kind of balanced diet, then making global sweeping generalization
about the benefits or lack of benefits of that single food.
What we also do not know, is the effect of interactions with medications
the high dose E very ill subjects were taking. No doubt some were
taking blood thinners or anti platelet drugs. Since Vitamin E
can potentiate an increase in clotting time it would augment the effect
of blood thinners which would not be a good idea. One way Vitamin E
reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease is by decreasing platelet
stickiness, yet we do not know how many of these subjects had
reduced platelets which can occur in the elderly chronically ill, in
which case they would not be good candidates for high dose Vitamin E.
The meta-analysis combined 19 studies, 18 of which showed no statistically
significant increase in mortality, one which was a combination study
of Vitamin E and estrogen which did . How can you decide the impact
of the E verses the Estrogen? What about the study in Parkinsons
patients on Deprenyl and 2000 IU of Vitamin E showing 73 deaths
per 399 in the medicated group verses 64 deaths per 401 in the control
group? How do you adjust for the Deprenyl verses the vitamin E
effects? You get the gist.
The studies in the meta-analysis were not designed to evaluate all-
cause mortality and many actually showed positive results on the
conditions for which they were designed. They evidenced reduced
progression of advanced age-related macular degeneration and cataracts,
reduced incidence of heart attacks, slowed progression of atherosclerosis
and Alzheimers Disease, and reduced rates of prostate, lung,
colon, rectal, liver, and pancreatic cancers.
- There was also no differentiation about the form of Vitamin E given,
natural verses synthetic and so on. Some of the researchers used
the synthetic DL-alpha tocopherol instead of the more active natural
D-alpha tocopherol. There are also mixed tocopherols
on the market with beta, gamma and delta forms. The activity of natural
or natural source d- alpha tocopherol is about twice that of the synthetic
There were no reported measures of actual vitamin E levels in these
studies of those with mortality so we really do not know their vitamin
E status. Vitamin E may be poorly absorbed, as low as 21%
in some. Absorption is significantly lower on an empty stomach
since vitamin E requires bile and fats for absorption. Transfer through
the body requires adequacy of an enzyme called lipoprotein lipase.
The study itself does not say Vitamin E was the cause of death among
these people who already had a life threatening illness, but the implication
was clearly there in the press releases which cautioned against the
use of Vitamin E in doses above 400 IU.
News of numerous previous positive clinical studies re vitamin E have
not been widely reported. This is the case for most positive studies
on any nutrients. But the research is there and available to any person
searching the web.
For instance, chances are you didnt read in the paper about
the conclusions of a study released in February 2004 in the American
Journal of Clinical Nutrition. They reported vitamin E deficiency
is more closely linked to death from heart disease than such better-known
risk factors as high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
The researchers found there is an Inverse correlation between
plasma vitamin E and mortality from ischemic heart disease in cross
cultural epidemiology This means the lower your vitamin
E blood levels, the greater your chance of dying from heart disease.
Researchers in this United Nations study said they could predict 62%
of heart disease deaths by looking at blood levels of vitamin E.
For more on the symptoms of Vitamin E deficiency and the benefits
of Vitamin E.
- SYMPTOMS OF DEFICIENCY:
- Increased fragility & shortened life of red blood cells
- Abnormal blood viscosity
- Heart rhythm disorders
- Accelerated aging
- Neuromuscular impairment such as:
- Loss of reflexes
- Gait disturbance
- Eye muscle incoordination
- Decreased balance
- Decreased vibratory sensation
- Breakdown of skin
- Predisposition to gallstones
- Fatty infiltration of the liver
- Excess lipid deposits or tumors
- If you want to know even more, see the comments from The Linus Pauling
Institute at or the Dietary Supplement Information Bureau.
The foods highest in Vitamin E are:
Unrefined oils such as:soybean,
safflower, wheat germ, sunflower, sesame, cottonseed, canola,
castor, coconut, peanut, olive, palm, walnut, and cod liver
Margarine, mayonnaise, sunflower seeds
Alfalfa, soybeans, lima beans, poppy seeds, sesame seeds, wheat
Chocolate, rose hips, cocoa butter, peanut butter, mint, corn,
Almonds, brazil nuts, chestnuts, pecans, walnuts, and peanuts
.just the average American diet