CRN Urges Caution In Weighing Results Of New Vitamin E Study

—Results Limited to Elderly Patients with Serious Medical Conditions—

—Vitamin E Supplements Continue to Offer Health Benefits to Millions of People—

WASHINGTON, D.C., March 15, 2005 ­­ — The president of the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) today urged caution in weighing the results of a newly released study on vitamin E supplements, noting that the isolated findings applied only to an older group of patients with a history of heart disease, stroke or diabetes.

Even the authors of the study, published in the March 16 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), concede that the “unexpected” results “cannot be confirmed at this time by other trials” and “could be due to chance.”

“This is certainly not the final word on vitamin E and should not obscure the fact that for millions of healthy people vitamin E has many long-term benefits, including protecting against oxidative damage in body cells and reducing harmful inflammation,” said CRN president Annette Dickinson, Ph.D. “The evidence also shows that vitamin E helps protect against infectious disease and some cancers, eye diseases that can possibly lead to blindness, and neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s.”

Dr. Dickinson noted that the “HOPE-TOO” study involved people who already had heart disease or very strong risk factors and who were taking numerous medications. The average age of the study participants was over 70. “Since these results have not been seen in other studies, this very well may be a chance effect,” she said. “There is certainly no evidence that these kinds of effects would occur in healthy populations.”

The CRN president said she agreed with the study’s authors that more research is needed, but noted there are a number of clinical trials now underway, including one involving more than 34,000 men that is evaluating whether vitamin E and selenium can reduce the risk of prostate cancer. “Those studies are continuing because the investigators and the sponsors are confident in the safety of vitamin E and also believe there is a strong likelihood of benefit,” Dr. Dickinson said.

CRN agrees with the Institute of Medicine’s finding that vitamin E supplements are safe within a wide range, up to 1,000 mg (1,000 IU of synthetic vitamin E, or 1,500 IU natural vitamin E) per day for normal, healthy adults. (Vitamin E supplements most commonly contain 400 IU.) At a recent forum at the University of Southern California, medical and scientific experts concluded that vitamin E and other antioxidant supplements “are safe and appear to confer a health benefit in certain individuals.”

“Vitamin E is essential for life and health, and most Americans don’t get enough from diet alone. Supplements can fill that gap as well as provide the higher levels of vitamin E that have been shown to be beneficial in promoting health and protecting against some diseases,” said Dr. Dickinson.

“It would be a disservice to the public to discount the scientific evidence pointing to the benefits of vitamin E and to sensationalize the HOPE-TOO findings,” she said.

The Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), founded in 1973, is a Washington, D.C.-based trade association representing dietary supplement industry ingredient suppliers and manufacturers. CRN members adhere to a strong code of ethics, comply with dosage limits and manufacture dietary supplements to high quality standards under good manufacturing practices. For more information on vitamin E visit the CRN website

Judy Blatman

Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.