Vitamin E, recommended variously for preventing cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and tardive dyskinesia, has taken quite a drubbing in recent years. Recent results from Harvard’s Women's Health Study have put another nail in its coffin. In the cognitive portion of this study, over 6,000 women were randomly assigned to treatment with either vitamine E, 600 IU every other day (3,184 subjects), or placebo (3,193 sub- jects). All women were given a series of basic cognitive tests 6, 8, and 10 years after starting treatment.
No differences between treatment groups were seen in either global cognitive scores or scores on individual items at any of the three times points tested. The research group also conducted 15 secondary analyses, three of which showed modest benefits of vitamin E in certain subpopu- lations of women (such as women with low serum levels of vitamin E) but the investigators admitted these findings could have occur by chance alone (Kang et al., Arch Intern Med 2006; 166:2462- 2468).
TCPR’s Take: This is the latest controlled trial showing that vitamin E supplementation is ineffective for pre- venting memory decline. Other studies have reported that vitamin E actually poses a health hazard, by increasing the risk of heart failure and all-cause mortality in patients taking 400 IU or greater (Boothby LA et al, Ann Pharmacother 2005;39(12):2073-80). Bottom line: We recommend that patients get their vita- min E the old-fashioned way by eating nuts and green leafy vegetables. Vitamin E supplements are good for the dietary supplement industry but probably useless and possibly harmful for everybody else
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