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High Blood Pressure

Vitamin E and blood pressure

08/14/2009

Question:

Dear doctor,

I have read so often that Vitamin E supplementation can assist in maintaining overall cardiovascular health and even lower blood pressure by a considerable amount in mild hypertensives. From what I have read this is one Vitamin that you can`t get enough of through foods and need supplements. Is that true and are the common alpha-tocopherol safe to take - there was some controversy a while back but I think that had been cleared.

There are some suggestions though that some people are sensitive to Vitamin E supplements in that their blood pressure actually rises. Is that dose dependant or that some people react badly to Vitamin E supplements and their blood pressure rises? Thanks.

Answer:

Vitamin E has no effect on blood pressure nor on cardiovascular risk.  In one study published in 2005, vitamin E supplements were correlated with a slight increase in mortality.  In a more recent study, vitamin E supplements were found to be ineffective in preventing prostate cancer.

Vitamin E deficiency can cause severe nerve damage, visual problems and muscle weakness, but it is very rare and only found in people with malabsorption syndromes. 

The average American diet contains enough vitamin E.  It is found in meats, nuts, cereals, sunflower oil, safflower oil and corn oil. 
Although many people take vitamin E supplements, their effectiveness is not proven.

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Response by:

Max C Reif, MD Max C Reif, MD
Professor of Medicine
Director of Hypertension Section
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati