Harvard Health Letter

Vitamin E gets an F

Research linking high doses of vitamin E to heart failure is causing new worries about the AREDS vitamins for macular degeneration.

In April, a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that super-high doses of vitamin E (2,000 IU daily) had no benefit for people with mild cognitive impairment, a pre""Alzheimer's disease condition. A month earlier, study results in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that 400 IU of the vitamin daily didn't lower heart or cancer risk for people with vascular disease or diabetes. Worse, the vitamin was associated with a 13% increase in the risk for heart failure "" possibly a chance finding but worrisome nonetheless.

These discouraging findings came on the heels of a meta-analysis "" a systematic re-analysis of previously published studies "" published in the Annals of Internal Medicine in November 2004 that found doses of 400 IU or more of vitamin E may increase the chances of earlier death or, to use the researchers' parlance, "all-cause mortality."

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