A Supplements Guide: What You Need to Stay Healthy
Vitamin EThe Claim: Daily vitamin E supplements can help stave off heart disease, cancers of the breast and colon, and more.
The Big Picture: These claims came mostly from years of studies in which researchers looked at people who took vitamin E without any medical supervision, explains Harvard Medical School assistant professor Helen Delichatsios, MD. "The problem is that it's difficult to factor in other positive behaviors that might have contributed to the vitamin's protective effects," says Dr. Delichatsios. "People who take vitamins are more likely to exercise, eat well, and lead a healthy lifestyle."
On the contrary, an analysis of clinical trials published in the Annals of Internal Medicine showed that high daily doses of supplemented E (400 International Units or more) raised the risk of stroke. Plus, there was no heart-disease protection; and, in fact, there was an increased overall risk of death. Further studies have also shown no cardiac or cancer-protective benefit.
Bottom Line: Experts like Dr. Delichatsios are advising patients to limit total daily E intake from food and supplements to 400 IU.
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