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Postmenopausal Women Reap Heart Benefits From Foods Containing Vitamin E

ted everything they ate and the vitamin pills they took for six days. During this period, their intake of vitamin E was measured. LDL oxidation was evaluated in a laboratory test that measured the time it took the women's LDL to become oxidized by copper ions (natural oxidants). The time, called the lag time, is used as an indicator of LDL oxidation.

Researchers found increased intake of vitamin E was associated with decreased susceptibility of LDL to oxidation among women whose only source of vitamin E was food. There was no benefit in supplement users. In fact, the study showed that the higher the vitamin intake in supplement users, the higher the susceptibility of LDL to oxidation.

"It's possible that vitamins taken in supplement form may block some of the benefits of vitamins taken from food," Mosca says.

"The best scientific evidence we have is that eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables is protective against heart disease," says Mosca. "We can never be sure exactly which nutrient is providing the benefits, and it is likely that several different nutrients are involved. That's why we recommend getting vitamin E from foods."

Rich sources of vitamin E include nuts, vegetable oils, whole grains and wheat germ.

The researchers also investigated the relationship between the intake of vitamin C, beta-carotene and folic acid -- from both food and supplements -- and LDL oxidation. None of these nutrients protected against oxidation.

"The reason may be because these nutrients may not be as good of an antioxidant as vitamin E. Also, the majority of women in this study who were taking supplements were using a multivitamin, which contains smaller amounts of vitamin E than a supplement," says Mosca. "We can't rule out the possibility that higher doses of vitamin E in pills may be protective."

Reducing the risk of developing heart disease and stroke is not the only reason to eat a vitamin-E-rich diet, says Mosca. This nutrient als
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Contact: Carole Bullock
caroleb@heart.org
214-706-1279
American Heart Association
26-Mar-1999


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