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Researchers find no evidence that vitamin E supplements have any benefit in preventing or treating cardiovascular disease

Vitamin E supplementation appears to have no benefit on cardiovascular disease prevention or treatment, according to the results from a meta-analysis of 84 studies on the topic. Supplementation with vitamin E alone or with other antioxidants had no positive or negative impact on fatal or nonfatal heart attacks, deaths due to cardiovascular disease or other causes, or cholesterol levels. The meta-analysis was conducted by Paul G. Shekelle, M.D., Ph.D., and colleagues at the Southern California Evidence-based Practice Center, which is supported by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (contract 290-97-0001).

A total of 20 trials found no effect of supplementation with vitamin E alone (either 400 IU or less or more than 400 IU) or in combination with other antioxidants (typically vitamin C or beta-carotene) on death rates from all causes in people with no known preexisting cardiovascular disease and those with cardiovascular disease. Four trials showed no effect of vitamin E supplementation compared with placebo on the risk of death due to cardiovascular disease. Neither was there any evidence of significant harm from the use of vitamin E alone or with other vitamin supplements.

A meta-analysis of seven trials found no positive or negative effect of vitamin E alone or in combination with other antioxidants compared with placebo on fatal or nonfatal heart attack among patients with a previous history of or significant risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Supplementation with vitamin E alone (or in combination with other antioxidants) in doses ranging from 100 IU to 1200 IU for 8 to 24 weeks did not demonstrate a significant positive or negative effect on serum lipids such as total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and HDL cholesterol.

See "Effect of supplemental vitamin E for the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease," by Dr. Shekelle, Sally C. Morton, Ph.D., Lara K. Jungvig, B.A., and others, in the April 2004 Journal of General Internal Medicine 19, pp. 380-389.

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