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Life Extension Magazine

LE Magazine March 2007

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Epidemic Deficiency of Vitamin E

By William Faloon

by William Faloon

If people had to rely on the news media for accurate health information, they might be influenced into making some very poor decisions.

For instance, new studies about vitamin E are published every week. The findings from virtually all of these studies, however, remain buried in scientific journals—that is, unless there is an unfavorable outcome. Since vitamin E is a popular supplement, the media turns negative results into headline news stories, thus leading Americans to believe that they do not need supplemental vitamin E.

Life Extension has analyzed the negative studies about vitamin E and exposed the many flaws in them. The major problem with these studies is that older test subjects (who are in poor health to begin with) are given alpha-tocopherol by itself. It is hard to imagine that alpha-tocopherol in isolation could reverse a lifetime of free-radical tissue damage, yet these are the kinds of studies the media has used to vilify vitamin E.1-9

Largest Study on Vitamin E Overlooked

On November 10, 2006, the largest study in medical history was published using blood levels of alpha-tocopherol as the marker of vitamin E status in male smokers.10 The purpose of this study was to correlate baseline vitamin E levels with specific causes of death and overall mortality over a 19-year period. There were 29,000 subjects initially enrolled and 13,000 deaths available for analysis.

The study results showed a significant reduction in overall mortality in those with the highest blood levels of alpha-tocopherol. When looking at specific diseases, men with the highest blood levels of alpha-tocopherol showed the following reductions in causes of death over the 19-year study period:

Disease

Mortality Reduction

Prostate cancer

32%

Ischemic stroke

37%

Hemorrhagic stroke

35%

Lung cancer

21%

Respiratory illness

42%

Despite the enormous size of this study, and the fact that it was published in a major scientific journal, the media all but ignored these remarkable findings.

How Vitamin E Protected These Men Against Disease

When discussing the biological mechanisms by which alpha-tocopherol reduced mortality across this wide spectrum of diseases, the scientists who conducted this study stated:

“As a primary fat-soluble antioxidant that protects lipids from peroxidation, alpha-tocopherol is able to scavenge mutagenic free radicals and inhibit the oxidation of LDL cholesterol, and these abilities have important implications for the prevention of carcinogenesis and atherosclerosis. . . alpha-tocopherol also has several important functions that are independent of its antioxidant activity, including modulation of gene expression, enhancements of immune responses, and suppression of tumor angiogenesis.”10

In describing why the study findings were so positive, the scientists noted that unlike in certain previous studies, test subjects with the higher alpha-tocopherol levels also displayed more beneficial gamma-tocopherol in their blood. The scientists elaborated that when alpha-tocopherol (vitamin E) is taken alone, it can deplete the body of gamma-tocopherol and antagonize the effects of vitamin K.10-15

A large body of published research documents the critical importance of gamma-tocopherol, especially when high doses of alpha-tocopherol are also taken.16-31 Researchers are finally recognizing what Life Extension members learned long ago—that is, the critical importance of following a program that includes both alpha- and gamma-tocopherol, along with vitamin K.

“Gamma-tocopherol is a powerful scavenger of reactive nitrogen oxide species and an inhibitor of the cyclooygenase-2 enzyme.”10

—American Journal of Clinical Nutrition - November 10, 2006, page 1206

In their concluding remarks, the scientists who conducted this most recent study stated:

“Our findings support a more robust role for circulating alpha-tocopherol in overall, cancer, and cardiovascular mortality than was suggested by previous studies.” 10

Shocking Deficiencies of Vitamin E

The editorial that accompanied this study revealed that 93% of American men and 96% of American women do not consume the recommended dietary allowance of vitamin E. Based on these startling statistics, the editorial questioned why doctors ever advocated that vitamin E supplements should be avoided!32,33

The editorial went on state the importance of establishing the amount of vitamin E necessary to “reduce the risk of chronic diseases,” rather than the minimal amount needed to “prevent a deficiency symptom.”

By analyzing fine details of the study, the editorial clearly demonstrated that the amount of vitamin E needed to achieve the optimal results shown in this study could be achieved “only with supplements.”

As was so adroitly pointed out by the editors, the federal government says Americans need only 12 milligrams a day of vitamin E, yet even this minute amount is not found in the diets of 93% of men and 96% of women in the United States,32 ergo the need for most Americans to take supplemental vitamin E.

“It is striking that the authors report that the men in the highest quintile of baseline serum concentrations of alpha-tocopherol had significantly lower risks of total and cause-specific mortality, including cardiovascular disease and cancer, than did the men in the lowest quintile of baseline serum concentrations of alpha-tocopherol.” 32

—Editorial - American Journal of Clinical Nutrition - November 10, 2006, page 959

Don’t Be a Victim of Drug Company Propaganda

It is in the economic interests of drug companies to steer Americans away from healthier lifestyles and dietary supplements. As more Americans fall ill to degenerative disease, drug company profits increase exponentially.

Enormous amounts of pharmaceutical dollars are spent influencing Congress, the FDA, and other federal agencies. The result is the promulgation of policies that cause Americans to be deprived of effective, low-cost means of protecting themselves against age-related disease.

The fact that the diets of more than 90% of Americans supply less than the 12 milligrams a day of vitamin E the government proclaims to be adequate is a startling revelation. It documents an epidemic deficiency of vitamin E among Americans who do not take supplements. Despite these grim statistics, the medical establishment continues to question the value of supplemental vitamin E.

As a member of the Life Extension Foundation, you gain access to scientific knowledge that could protect you against a host of common diseases—information that is too often distorted by the government and ignored by the mainstream media.

 

For longer life,
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William Faloon

References

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2. Lonn E, Bosch J, Yusuf S, et al. Effects of long-term vitamin E supplementation on cardiovascular events and cancer: a randomized controlled trial. JAMA. 2005 Mar 16;293(11):1338-47.

3. Miller ER, III, Pastor-Barriuso R, Dalal D, et al. Meta-analysis: high-dosage vitamin E supplementation may increase all-cause mortality. Ann Intern Med. 2005 Jan 4;142(1):37-46.

4. Vivekananthan DP, Penn MS, Sapp SK, Hsu A, Topol EJ. Use of antioxidant vitamins for the prevention of cardiovascular disease: meta-analysis of randomised trials. Lancet. 2003 Jun 14;361(9374):2017-23.

5. Pruthi S, Allison TG, Hensrud DD. Vitamin E supplementation in the prevention of coronary heart disease. Mayo Clin Proc. 2001 Nov;76(11):1131-6.

6. Marchioli R, Schweiger C, Levantesi G, Tavazzi L, Valagussa F. Antioxidant vitamins and prevention of cardiovascular disease: epidemiological and clinical trial data. Lipids. 2001;36 SupplS53-S63.

7. Yusuf S, Dagenais G, Pogue J, Bosch J, Sleight P. Vitamin E supplementation and cardiovascular events in high-risk patients. The Heart Outcomes Prevention Evaluation Study Investigators. N Engl J Med. 2000 Jan 20;342(3):154-60.

8. Anon. Dietary supplementation with n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and vitamin E after myocardial infarction: results of the GISSI-Prevenzione trial. Gruppo Italiano per lo Studio della Sopravvivenza nell’Infarto miocardico. Lancet. 1999 Aug 7;354(9177):447-55.

9. Anon. The effect of vitamin E and beta carotene on the incidence of lung cancer and other cancers in male smokers. The Alpha-Tocopherol, Beta Carotene Cancer Prevention Study Group. N Engl J Med. 1994 Apr 14;330(15):1029-35.

10. Wright ME, Lawson KA, Weinstein SJ, et al. Higher baseline serum concentrations of vitamin E are associated with lower total and cause-specific mortality in the Alpha-Tocopherol, Beta-Carotene Cancer Prevention Study. Am J Clin Nutr. 2006 Nov;84(5):1200-7.

11. Booth SL, Golly I, Sacheck JM, et al. Effect of vitamin E supplementation on vitamin K status in adults with normal coagulation status. Am J Clin Nutr. 2004 Jul;80(1):143-8.

12. Huang HY, Appel LJ. Supplementation of diets with alpha-tocopherol reduces serum concentrations of gamma- and delta-tocopherol in humans. J Nutr. 2003 Oct;133(10):3137-40.

13 Schurgers LJ, Shearer MJ, Soute BA, et al. Novel effects of diets enriched with corn oil or with an olive oil/sunflower oil mixture on vitamin K metabolism and vitamin K-dependent proteins in young men. J Lipid Res. 2002 Jun;43(6):878-84.

14. Handelman GJ, Machlin LJ, Fitch K, Weiter JJ, Dratz EA. Oral alpha-tocopherol supplements decrease plasma gamma-tocopherol levels in humans. J Nutr. 1985 Jun;115(6):807-13.

15. Traber MG, Kayden HJ. Preferential incorporation of alpha-tocopherol vs gamma-tocopherol in human lipoproteins. Am J Clin Nutr. 1989 Mar;49(3):517-26.

16. Saldeen T, Li D, Mehta JL. Differential effects of alpha- and gamma-tocopherol on low-density lipoprotein oxidation, superoxide activity, platelet aggregation and arterial thrombogenesis. J Am Coll Cardiol. 1999 Oct;34(4):1208-15.

17. Ohrvall M, Sundlof G, Vessby B. Gamma, but not alpha, tocopherol levels in serum are reduced in coronary heart disease patients. J Intern Med. 1996 Feb;239(2):111-7.

18. Cooney RV, Franke AA, Harwood PJ, et al. Gamma-tocopherol detoxification of nitrogen dioxide: superiority to alpha-tocopherol. Pro Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1993 Mar 1;90(5):1771-5.

19. Kontush A, Spranger T, Reich A, Baum K, Beisiegel U. Lipophilic antioxidants in blood plasma as markers of atherosclerosis: the role of alpha-carotene and gamma-tocopherol. Atherosclerosis. 1999 May;144(1):117-22.

20. Sjoholm A, Berggren PO, Cooney RV. gamma-tocopherol partially protects insulin-secreting cells against functional inhibition by nitric oxide. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2000 Oct 22;277(2):334-40.

21. Weinstein SJ, Wright ME, Pietinen P, et al. Serum alpha-tocopherol and gamma-tocopherol in relation to prostate cancer risk in a prospective study. J Nat Cancer Inst. 2005 Mar 2;97(5):396-9.

22. Jiang Q, Wong J, Ames BN. Gamma-tocopherol induces apoptosis in androgen-responsive LNCaP prostate cancer cells via caspase-dependent and independent mechanisms. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2004 Dec;1031:399-400.

23. Helzlsouer KJ, Huang HY, Alberg AJ, Hoffman S. Association between alpha-tocopherol, gamma-tocopherol, selenium, and subsequent prostate cancer. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2000 Dec 20;92(24):2018-23.

24. Campbell S, Stone W, Whaley S, Krishnan K. Development of gamma (gamma)-tocopherol as a colorectal cancer chemopreventive agent. Crit Rev Oncol Hematol. 2003 Sep;47(3):249-59.

25. Gysin R, Azzi A, Visarius T. Gamma-tocopherol inhibits human cancer cell cycle progression and cell proliferation by down-regulation of cyclins. FASEB J. 2002 Dec;16(14):1952-4.

26. Jones KH, Liu JJ, Roehm JS, et al. Gamma-tocopheryl quinone stimulates apoptosis in drug-sensitive and multidrug-resistant cancer cells. Lipids. 2002 Feb;37(2):173-84.

27. Morris MC, Evans DA, Tangney CC, et al. Relation of the tocopherol forms to incident Alzheimer disease and to cognitive change. Am J Clin Nutr. 2005 Feb;81(2):508-14.

28. Williamson KS, Gabbita SP, Mou S, et al. The nitration product 5-nitro-gamma-tocopherol is increased in the Alzheimer brain. Nitric Oxide. 2002 Mar;6(2):221-7.

29. Jiang Q, Ames BN. Gamma-tocopherol, but not alpha-tocopherol, decreases proinflammatory eicosanoids and inflammation damage in rats. FASEB J. 2003 May;17(8):816-22.

30. Jiang Q, Elson-Schwab I, Courtemanche C, Ames BN. Gamma-tocopherol and its major metabolite, in contrast to alpha-tocopherol, inhibit cyclooxygenase activity in macrophages and epithelial cells. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2000 Oct 10;97(21):11494-9.

31. Cooney RV, Harwood PJ, Franke AA, et al. Products of gamma-tocopherol reaction with NO2 and their formation in rat insulinoma (RINm5F) cells. Free Radic Biol Med. 1995 Sep;19(3):259-69.

32. Traber MG. How much vitamin E?. . . Just enough! Am J Clin Nutr. 2006 Nov;84(5):959-60.

33. Maras JE, Bermudez OI, Qiao N, Bakun PJ, Boody-Alter EL, Tucker KL. Intake of alpha-tocopherol is limited among US adults. J Am Diet Assoc. 2004 Apr;104(4):567-75.