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Vitamin E: Can it increase the risk of mortality?

Vitamin E: Can it increase the risk of mortality?Can too much vitamin E (400IU or more per day) increase the risk of all-cause mortality?

In an article published in November 2004 in the Annals of Internal Medicine, researchers at Johns Hopkins examined 19 different vitamin E studies between 1966 and 2004 to a meta-analysis. The total number of subjects (age 47 - 84 years old) in these 19 studies was 135,967. The dosages of vitamin E ranged from 16.5 to 2000 IU per day. The meta-analysis suggests that too much of vitamin E (400IU or more per day) increases the risk of all-cause mortality.

WH Leong, Vice President of Carotech Inc., the largest supplier of Full Spectrum Tocotrienol Complex, and the supplier we use for the full spectrum Vitamin E in Tocospan had the following response to this article.

“Meta-analyses are often highly speculative because of the different variables in each of the studies such as source of vitamin E (natural or synthetic), study duration, health/disease condition of subjects, etc. Hence, they by no means definitive proof of anything, due to the lack of uniform protocols and patient groups

Perhaps - on the other hand, it goes to show that a single nutrient vitamin E (ie : alpha-tocopherol - synthetic or natural) is not panacea. It is against conventional wisdom to take mega-doses of one nutrient without considering the potential side effects. As a matter of fact, we have seen this before - in 1996 with the beta-carotene debacle (The ATBC and CARET studies). These two studies provide evidence that taking beta-carotene alone rather than a multi-carotenoids (beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, gamma-carotene, lycopene, lutein - as produce in nature), may increase the cancer risks among smokers. This may be because all these carotenoids work synergistically as a team - recharging and supporting each other to confer the health benefits.

Similarly, high dosage of alpha-tocopherol alone has been shown to deplete the body's gamma-tocopherol. Despite alpha tocopherol's action as an antioxidant, gamma tocoherol is required to effectively remove the harmful peroxynitrite-derived nitrating species. Because large doses of dietary alpha tocopherol displace gamma tocopherol in plasma and other tissues, the current wisdom of vitamin E supplementation with primarily alpha tocopherol should be reconsidered. Other forms of vitamin E - gamma-tocopherol, delta-tocopherol and certainly tocotrienols have been proven to have unique health properties.

Taking a single form of vitamin E (ie : alpha-tocopherol alone) denies the very fact that nature put seven (7) different forms on tocopherols and tocotrienols out there for a reason.

We should be taking the wholesome full spectrum vitamin E : d mixed tocopherols + d-mixed tocotrienols (E COMPLETE) - as what is produce and found in nature. Mimicking nature is the best way for supplementation. Like the carotenoids, all these different forms of vitamin E work synergistically and depends on each other for optimum functionality.

Natural phytonutrients just don't work well in isolation from each other. I sincerely believe (from scientific evidence) that most people would benefit from taking a full spectrum Vitamin E supplement that consists of d-mixed tocopherols + d-mixed tocotrienols. And it would be safer than just the alpha-tocopherol alone.”

Other people have been MUCH MORE NEGATIVE about the study. An email from Julian Whitaker, M.D. called the recommendation "absurd".

In addition, we have asked the scientists at Tishcon Corp to give us their comments on this new Vitamin E controversy. When we receive their feedback we will post it on the web site.

We certainly do not want to appear "self-serving" in our comments about this issue -- especially since we do sell Vitamin E and products containing Vitamin E. However, as a personal observation, it often seems that the media tends to over dramatize stories like this. Remember the headlines – Coffee is BAD. Followed a month or so later by Coffee is GOOD. You can substitute Chocolate for Coffee and any number of other terms!

The National Nutritional Foods Association, (NNFA), has launched a new online “Vitamin E Resource Center.” The purpose of the center, which will be continually updated, is to provide members and others with information that supports the benefits of vitamin E and thoroughly refutes the study’s negative findings.

The Vitamin E Resource Center can be accessed from NNFA’s Web site at www.nnfa.org or directly at the link below:

CLICK HERE to go to the Vitamin E Resource Center

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