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Vitamin E and Heart Disease

What is the relationship between heart disease and vitamin E? At one time, it was believed that taking vitamin E supplements might protect against heart disease. Subsequent research, however, has shown that taking supplements as a preventive measure can be harmful. However, foods rich in vitamin E (such as wheat germ and leafy green vegetables) are proven to protect heart health.

Vitamin E and Heart Disease: An Overview

Until recently, it was believed that antioxidant vitamins, particularly vitamin E, might protect against heart disease and stroke, as well as cancer. But new research shows that taking vitamin E in supplement form can be harmful -- even deadly.

What Does the Research Say About Heart Disease and Vitamin E?

A review of 19 studies that tested vitamin E supplements showed that daily doses of 400 IUs or more may significantly increase the risk of death from all causes. Other recent studies have shown that there are no benefits to taking vitamin E supplements to prevent cardiovascular diseases (including heart disease or stroke) or cancer.
But studies suggest that vitamin E in foods does protect heart health. So keep eating plenty of foods that are packed with these vitamins. Foods rich in vitamin E include:
  • Vegetable oils (especially safflower and sunflower oils)
  • Wheat germ
  • Leafy green vegetables
  • Nuts (almonds and mixed nuts).

Recommendations Regarding Vitamin E and Heart Disease

Most heart disease research doctors would now say that, despite their initial promise, vitamin E supplements do not prevent heart disease. Instead, people should focus on well-proven means of heart disease prevention, including leading a healthy lifestyle and controlling heart disease risk factors, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
If you are interested in taking supplements, talk with your doctor about vitamin E and heart disease. He or she will look at the risks and benefits of higher-dose supplements in your particular situation, and together, you can decide on a treatment plan that makes sense for you.
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