Vitamin E has been plagued by disappointing clinical trials and negative media for the better part of the last decade. In 1999, U.S. consumers spent $868 million on Vitamin E supplements, according to NBJ estimates. In 2007, that number dropped to $391 million. Many of the studies cited in the NYT piece can be directly tied to the precipitous decline of the vitamin E category.
Most recently, a clinical trial of 15,000 doctors has shown that taking vitamins C and E for up to ten years had no effect on cancer rates. Another recent study of more than 14,000 doctors found that taking vitamins C and E had no effect on heart disease.
A third study of more than 35,000 men taking selenium and vitamin E ended after researchers raised concerns that the treatments may cause more harm to prostate health than it does good. The National Cancer Institute found that slightly more of the vitamin E users were getting prostate cancer, and slightly more selenium-only users were being diagnosed with diabetes.
While Vitamin E sales were down again in 2007, the decline was less severe than in previous years (4%). Optimists in the industry hope that the category might be finally turning the corner and approaching positive growth once again. That may be far-fetched now, as recent clinical trials have failed to produce positive momentum for vitamin E.
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