Vitamin-E: more useful for women than men!

Vitamin E (tocopherol) is a fat-soluble vitamin with antioxidant properties; it protects cell membranes from oxidation and destruction. A few decades ago, it was widely touted for everything, however lately its use has fallen out of favor. As an antioxidant, it protects cells from the damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are produced from the conversion of food to energy. People are also exposed to free radicals in the environment from cigarette smoke, air pollution, and ultraviolet light from the sun.

• Source: there are 8 naturally tocopherols. The most active is d-alpha-tocopherol.

• Dietary sources: Vegetable oils, wheat germ, leafy vegetables, egg yolk, margarine, legumes.

Cancer: The Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial (SELECT) was published in October 16, 2011 edition of The Journal of the American Medical Association.

• 400 IUs (360mg) /day & over significantly increased the risk of prostate cancer among healthy men when compared with healthy men taking placebo.

• The researchers found that the increased risk means that there will be 1 to 2 more prostate cancers per 1000 patients who took the high dose vitamin E for one year. Interestingly, in men who received both vitamin E and selenium, there was no increased rate of prostate cancer.

Heart disease: Most clinical trials have not provided evidence that routine use of vitamin E supplements prevents cardiovascular disease or reduces its morbidity and mortality. However, participants in these studies have been largely middle-aged or elderly individuals with demonstrated heart disease or risk factors for heart disease.

Memory: most research results do not support the use of vitamin E supplements by healthy or mildly impaired individuals to maintain cognitive performance or slow its decline with normal aging. Not much current evidence is available to support supplementation of Vitamin-E for prevention or treatment of cancer, cardiovascular or cerebrovascular disease.

Dosage: Most sources do not recommend supplementing with more than 400iu (360mg) of Vitamin E- d-alpha tocopherol.

CAUTION: increased bleed risk with blood thinners. High doses of Vitamin-E inhibit platelet aggregation, and significantly increase risk of bleeding.

Walking out to my vitamin section and recommending Vitamin E, for me is an exceedingly rare occurrence… if at all!

A possible use for Vitamin-E: Treatment of fibrocystic breast disease:

There is a possible beneficial effect of vitamin E on breast pain in premenstrual women who experience breast pain that fluctuates during the menstrual cycle. One study showed a dose of Vitamin-E 200 IU (180mg) twice daily for two months improved symptoms in women with cyclic breast pain. Minimal benefit was observed after 4 months.