A new study from Italy reports that a supplementation with vitamin E alone can reduce the risk of myocardial infarction by 20%.
The meta-analysis included data from 16 randomized controlled trials, which investigated if vitamin E alone or in combination with other antioxidants had an impact on heart attack risk (1). The analysis showed that increased intakes of vitamin E alone, ranging from 400 to 800 IU per day, reduced (mostly fatal) myocardial infarction by 20%. No effects were observed when vitamin E was combined with other antioxidants.
The scientists commented that based on the positive results the potential clinical benefit of vitamin E supplementation for primary or secondary prevention of atherosclerosis should be further investigated in interventional trials. In this context, studies assessing the effect of vitamin E on markers of either clotting and platelet activation or oxidative stress should be done in patients at risk or with cardiovascular events to define the optimal dose which affects either. The fact that vitamin E, which is a known antioxidant, reduced the clinical sequela of atherosclerotic disease may suggests the oxidative stress theory is still valid and that modulation of oxidative stress should be an important future goal to achieve to reduce atherosclerosis, the researchers said. The antioxidant effect could not be the only mechanism accounting for the anti-atherosclerotic property as vitamin E possesses other anti-inflammatory activities such as inhibition of muscle cell proliferation, monocyte-endothelial adhesion and inflammatory cytokine release, which are independent from inhibition of oxidative stress.
The studies in the meta-analysis which did not show clear cardiovascular benefits were those involving people being treated with medications for diabetes or after cardiovascular surgery. Recent clinical trials reported that vitamin E supplementation helped maintain brain function in persons with mild cognitive impairment (2), seems to improve lung function in older adults (3) and may help maintain normal liver function in overweight and obese individuals (4).