Harvard Women's Health Watch

Vitamin E no help for heart failure

Over the years, several studies have looked at the effects of vitamin E—an antioxidant—on heart health. The latest study to investigate the connection, which was published in the March issue of Circulation, found that the supplement did little, if anything, to help women avoid heart failure—a condition in which the heart has been weakened by disease to the point where it can't pump enough blood to the body. Cardiologist Dr. Claudia Chae and her colleagues at Massachusetts General Hospital examined data from nearly 40,000 participants in the Women's Health Study. The women were randomly assigned to receive either 600 IU of vitamin E every other day or an inactive placebo. After following the women for more than a decade, the researchers found that vitamin E supplements did not influence the risk of heart failure. About the same number of women in each group eventually developed heart failure —106 women in the vitamin E group and 114 in the placebo group. What should women take away from this study? "Based on our data, we do not recommend that women take vitamin E supplements to try to decrease their risk of heart failure," Dr. Chae says. "Instead, they should focus on healthy lifestyle habits (including a heart-healthy diet, regular physical activity, weight control, and not smoking) and well-proven treatments that will reduce their risk of hypertension, diabetes, and coronary artery disease, which are conditions that commonly lead to the development of heart failure.

To continue reading this article, you must login.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »