Vitamin E

Vitamin E Meta-analysis Misleads Consumers

The following release is made by the ANH in the wake of a raft of negative publicity on Vitamin E following the meta-analysis released by Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions.

Cautious interpretation is essential

The meta-analysis to be published next January in the Annals of Internal Medicine (Volume 142, Issue 1), suggests that mortality in people taking over 400 IU of Vitamin E a day is increased. The study, published electronically on the journal’s Website, re-analyses data from 19 clinical trials involving Vitamin E published between 1993 and 2004 and was undertaken by researchers at Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions.

In the view of the Alliance for Natural Health, which represents doctors, practitioners, consumers and leading-edge companies with interests in sustainable healthcare and natural therapies, it is of paramount importance that the study results are interpreted with caution.

Scaremongering headlines, based largely on misinterpretations of the study, which have begun to appear today, do nothing to help the development of responsible self-care patterns in consumers which are urgently required in the face of escalating heart disease and cancer rates.

Limitations of the study

In a widely circulated press release publicizing the study, Dr. Edgar Miller, lead author of the meta-analysis at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, claims that if people are taking a multivitamin, they should make sure it contains no more than a low dose of Vitamin E. “Our study shows that use of high-dose vitamin E supplements certainly did not prolong life, but was associated with a higher risk of death.”

However, the study has a number of very important limitations which mean that sweeping generalizations such as those made by Dr. Miller should not be made. Such statements could be regarded as irresponsible, particularly as they are likely to cloud consumer views over the importance of food supplementation as a means of compensating for the now well demonstrated inadequacies of the typical, western diet.

Some of the most important limitations of the study are posted on Alliance for Natural Health.

A word about RDA

The RDA (Recommended Daily Dietary Allowances) is an estimate established by the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences for nutritional needs necessary for prevention of nutrient depletion in healthy people. RDAs do not take into account altered requirements due to sickness, injury, physical or mental stress, use of medications or drugs, nor compensate for the nutrient losses that occur during processing and preparation of food. The RDA indicates the amount of vitamins and minerals needed to prevent common deficiency diseases (such as rickets or scurvy) for the average healthy person. The “average person” assumes that you are an adult under 60 years old who is in good health, has normal digestion, isn’t overweight, leads a relatively stress-free life, has no medical problems, does not need any medication, and eats a healthy, nutritious balanced diet everyday consisting of 2,000 calories per day — none of which comes from refined or processed foods. So, if by definition, you are an “average healthy person,” then RDA requirements apply to you.