A new study has found that natural vitamin E and vitamin C can significantly reduce the risk of several cardiovascular diseases. The study was published in the August 13, 2007, issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, a journal published by the American Medical Association.
Nancy R. Cook, ScD, of the Harvard School of Public Health, and her colleagues asked 8,171 women to take 600 IU of natural-source vitamin E, 500 mg of vitamin C, and 50 mg of beta-carotene, or various combinations of these antioxidant nutrients every other day for an average of nine and one-half years.
When Cook and her colleagues analyzed data from people who consistently took their supplements, they found these specific benefits:
• Vitamin E led to a 22 percent reduction in the risk of heart attack.
• Vitamin E led to a 27 percent less risk of stroke.
• Vitamin E led to a 9 percent lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease.
• Vitamin E led to a 23 percent lower combined risk of heart attack, stroke, and cardiovascular-related death.
• Vitamin E and vitamin C together lowered the risk of stroke by 31 percent.
Despite these positive findings, initial newspaper and television reports on the study tended to be negative, stating that the benefits were marginal or that there were no benefits at all. The negative media spin originated with a news release from Brigham Women's Hospital in Boston, where the research was conducted, as well as from a news release from the American Medical Association.
The researchers reported that, overall, vitamin E supplements led to a "marginally significant" 11 percent lower risk of combined cardiovascular disease events, including heart disease and stroke.
But when the researchers analyzed results from people who consistently took their supplements, the found the "stronger" benefits.
Including people who infrequently took supplements with those who consistently took them diluted the overall findings. However, focusing only on people who regularly took supplements strengthened the findings and benefits of vitamin E and antioxidants.
Beta-carotene did not have any clear cardiovascular benefits, and the researchers also pointed out there were no signs of harm from any of the supplements. Other studies have pointed out that beta-carotene may have benefits in preventing cancer among people who do not eat many fruits and vegetables.
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The Nutrition Reporter newsletter publishes summaries of recent research on vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. For sample issues, visit www.nutritionreporter.com or send a self-addressed envelope with two first-class stamps to: The Nutrition Reporter, PO Box 30246, Tucson AZ 85751. Subscriptions are $27 per year. Jack Challem, editor of the newsletter, is considered one of America's most trusted health and nutrition writers. For free excerpts of his book, The Food-Mood Solution, visit www.foodmoodsolution.com.
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