Harvard Heart Letter

Ask the doctor: Vitamin E for the heart

Deepak L. Bhatt, MD, MPH

Q. I had a heart attack 20 years ago. My doctor told me to stop taking vitamin E. My old cardiologist told me to take vitamin E every day to prevent another heart attack. What should I do?

A. Vitamin E is an antioxidant found in fruits and vegetables. Vitamin E supplements were once thought to boost antioxidant levels and fight off disease.

There was time that doctors were recommending vitamin E, advice based largely on a clinical trial done in the mid-1990s suggesting that it might reduce the risk of heart attacks. Because there were so few heart attacks in that study, the findings should have been confirmed before being so quickly adopted. Nevertheless, the results quickly influenced medical practice.

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