There’s been tons of media coverage on the latest Vitamin E & C study (called the Physicians’ Health Study II). Much of the media has reported that these vitamins have no benefits for cardiovascular health. Here’s what was really found:
Supplementation of 400 IU of Vitamin E every other day and 500 mg of Vitamin C every day had no significant effects on the reduction of nonfatal myocardial infarction, nonfatal stroke and cardiovascular disease death. The study lasted 10 years and utilized a group of 14,641 male physicians, average age of 64 years.
(Click here to read the study.)
Here’s why you shouldn’t throw away your vitamins (Specific to this study):
- The most striking concern for me was the age of these men. The average age was 64 at the beginning of this study. So, by the end of this 10-year study, 4,696 of these men were over the age of 70 and 4,054 were over the age of 80. At that age, of course they’re going to die of cardiovascular disease! At the least, these guys will have some heart attacks and strokes. Did the researchers actually think that some Vitamin E & C supplements could defeat the number one cause of death (cardiovascular disease) and send the male gender rocketing past their previously recorded life span?
- There are too many factors in cardiovascular disease. Vitamins E & C may play a beneficial role, but they will not play a total role.
- This is not a representative sample for Americans. This sample was made up of male physicians, likely 99% white of Northern European descent, highly educated and all of them were probably making some pretty nice paychecks. These guys could afford good food, vitamins, exercise, health insurance and other healthy lifestyle factors. Perhaps supplementation of Vitamin E & C could do no more for them on a cardiovascular level. But what about the rest of us?
- There has been no consistency with dosage in vitamin research. Conventional science has to get away from the more is better belief and begin to actually understand the small details of these vitamins. The most effective dose may not be the highest amount that can be absorbed by the body.
- Quality. This is huge! Where are these products being manufactured? What is the quality of these supplements? In the world of vitamins, you definitely get what you pay for. Supplements are essentially an unregulated industry with a lot of companies sacrificing quality for profits. I would never give up my vitamins for a cheaper brand that may be full of fillers and junk. This is a vital point to consider when research is being done on these products.
Research is clear that if you use a quality supplement, your risk of side effects from Vitamin E or Vitamin C is very rare. However, there is some valid evidence to suggest that high amounts of Vitamin E (more than 1,500 IU/day or 1,000 mg/day) may increase the likelihood of hemorrhage for some individuals. But, not to worry, common supplements won’t get near that amount; you’ll probably see around 350 IU on your bottle.
There is still valid evidence to support the use of these vitamins for prevention and treatment of a variety of chronic conditions. I haven’t been swayed by this study. I’ll continue to take quality vitamins (with a Vitamin E level of no more than 800 IU/day) and feel confident that I am receiving benefits.