A British charity has raised doubts about the benefit of vitamin E supplements following reports that they have no effect on women’s risk of developing heart failure.
In the study reported in Circulation: Heart Failure, researchers followed a group of nearly 40,000 women aged 45 and older in the Women’s Health Study for an average of about ten years.
The women took 600 doses of vitamin E or a placebo every other day. During the study, 220 episodes of heart failure were diagnosed and the results showed that taking vitamin E supplements had no impact on the women’s risk of developing heart failure.
Dietetic advisor for Heart UK, Linda Main said: “Until there is more evidence to support the benefit of taking supplemental vitamin E in people with circulatory disease it is best to avoid costly supplements and continue to consume a healthy varied diet.
“That means a diet that is rich in a range of fruits, vegetables and pulses, low fat dairy foods, wholegrain cereals, nuts and seeds, fish and lean meat and heart healthy spreading and cooking fats (based on nut and seed oils) and which is low in processed foods, salt and added sugar.
“Such a diet will contain a range of nutrients that are beneficial to heart health.
“Vitamin E is a major antioxidant and is known to help maintain the integrity of fats in the blood and cell membranes, helping to prevent them from being oxidised.
“It is important to have a regular intake of vitamin E throughout life. It is found in wholegrain cereals, nuts, vegetable oils and some vegetables and fruits. Some groups of the population might benefit from a supplement of vitamin E, particularly those with poor appetites, with increased needs or individuals with poor fat absorption.”
Heart UK is the UK's only cholesterol charity and dedicated to providing support for people with inherited high cholesterol.
Two thirds of adults in the UK have raised cholesterol. Over 120,000 people in Britain have a form of inherited high cholesterol called Familial Hypercholesterolaemia (FH) which can cause premature death as those as young as 30 – and only 15 per cent of those with the condition know they have it.
Heart UK is urging women to reduce their risk of heart disease by keeping their cholesterol at a normal level through regular exercise and maintaining a healthy diet.