I just saw a big news announcement about vitamin E. Of course it was bad news. The media are always quick to trumpet bad news about nutrients. And very slow to tell us about the benefits. The study suggests that vitamin E supplements don’t lower a woman’s risk for heart failure.
In this study, the researchers evaluated the effects of vitamin E supplements on heart failure risk. They used the data of 39,815 women from the Women's Health Study. All of the women were at least 45 years old and were healthy at the start of the study. Each woman took either a placebo or 600 IU of vitamin E.
The researchers followed the women for an average of 10.2 years. During that time, they identified 220 cases of heart failure. They found that vitamin E supplements don’t significantly reduce your heart failure risk.
Does that mean vitamin E doesn’t prevent heart failure? Possibly. But there could be problems with the study. I didn’t see any notes in the study about the type of vitamin E they used. That likely means they used the synthetic form. If they used the natural form and it didn’t work, they would put that information front and center to discredit it. That didn’t happen.
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The difference between synthetic and natural is significant. The synthetic form contains several different "isomers." Many of these don’t add to your daily requirement of vitamin E. That means a 600 IU dose of the synthetic form actually gives you a significantly lower dose of the vitamin. And it’s the inactive form, not the active vitamin.
We also know that your heart needs vitamin E. Many studies show that vitamin E is crucial for a healthy circulatory system, including a healthy heart. This new study doesn’t change that fact. However, it might take more vitamin E to stop heart failure than 600 IU of synthetic vitamin E. Most integrative physicians recommend at least 600 IU of natural vitamin E. And some suggest even more, as much as 800 IU daily. I prefer vitamin E’s cousin Delta Tocotrienols, as it’s a more effective form of natural vitamin E.
Even with that dosage, though, I wouldn’t rely on vitamin E alone to prevent or reverse heart failure. CoQ10, L-carnitine, alpha-lipoic acid, and magnesium are nutrients that are critical for a healthy heart. You can get the first three in Advanced Bionutritionals Ubiquinol, a highly absorbable form of CoQ10.
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Steve Kroening is the editor of Nutrient Insider, a twice-a-week email newsletter that brings you the latest healing breakthroughs from the world of nutrition and dietary supplements. For over 20 years, Steve has worked hand-in-hand with some of the nation's top doctors, including Drs. Robert Rowen, Frank Shallenberger, Nan Fuchs, William Campbell Douglass, and best-selling author James Balch. Steve is the author of the book Practical Guide to Home Remedies. As a health journalist, Steve's articles have appeared in countless magazines, blogs, and websites.
Chae CU, Albert CM, Moorthy MV, et al. Vitamin e supplementation and the risk of heart failure in women. Circ Heart Fail. 2012 Mar 1;5(2):176-82