Natural-Source Vitamin E Supplements Reduce Skin Disorders

BACKGROUND: Atopic dermatitis is a common chronic skin disorder characterized by inflammation and itching. It is frequently seen in people with a personal or family history of asthma and allergic rhinitis. Some research has shown that vitamin E can lower blood levels of IgE
(immunoglobulin E), a key immune factor involved in allergic reactions, suggesting that the vitamin may have a potential role in reducing allergic symptoms.

RESEARCH: Researchers asked 96 patients with atopic dermatitis to take either 400 IU of natural-source vitamin E or placebos daily for eight months. Among the initial symptoms were facial redness, thickening of the skin, eczema, and itching.

RESULTS: Patients taking vitamin E supplements had significant improvements compared with those taking placebos. Seven of the patients taking vitamin E had nearly complete remissions of atopic dermatitis compared with none in the placebo group. Overall, 23 people taking vitamin E experienced "great improvement" and 10 had slight improvement. In contrast, only one patient
taking placebos had a great improvement and four had slight improvements. Only four patients taking vitamin E actually worsened during the study, compared with 36 in the placebo group. IgE levels decreased by 62 percent in the vitamin E group who experienced great improvement or remission, but only 34.4 percent in the placebo group.

IMPLICATIONS: This study showed a strong trend toward improvement from vitamin E supplements, although not every patient benefited. The researchers concluded, "Our findings suggest that vitamin E may play an important role in IgE-mediated atopic responses in humans by significantly
decreasing the serum IgE levels. This leads to an improvement in clinical symptoms, offering patients a better quality of life and dermatologists a safe tool for the treatment of atopic dermatitis."

Tsoureli-Nikita E, Hercogova J, Lotti T, et al, "Evaluation of dietary intake of vitamin E in the treatment of atopic dermatitis: a study of the clinical course and evaluation of the immunoglobulin E serum levels," International Journal of Dermatology, 2002;41:146-150.

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