Ask The Doctors: May 2008
Your interpretation of the medical literature is quite accurate. There are studies that have shown the benefits of antioxidant supplements such as vitamin E, studies that have shown no benefits, and even studies that have shown harm. For several years, cardiologists were recommending vitamin E to prevent heart attacks or progression of heart disease. Now, the official cardiology guidelines recommend that heart patients stop taking vitamin E supplements. There is even some evidence that the benefits of certain statins may be blunted by supplementation with vitamin E. Other than benefits derived from natural sources, such as green leafy vegetables, it does not appear that routine vitamin E supplementation is justified for the prevention of cardiovascular disease. There is ongoing research with other antioxidants to see if they might reduce cardiovascular risk, but it will be several years before data are available.