At a recent conference, scientists that specialize in nutritional oils met to examine vitamin E, discuss recent scientific advances and answer questions raised by a highly publicized 2004 article in Annals of Internal Medicine. Their conclusion was that vitamin E is safe and offers well-documented health benefits.

The Hot Topics symposium at the American Oil Chemists Society annual meeting in St. Louis, Missouri, covered “extensive science supporting the role of various vitamin E constituents with careful evaluation and scientific discussion by the large audience of oil chemists,” said conference moderator Professor Ronald Watson, Ph.D., University of Arizona. Attendees also discussed recent research that has identified a group of components of natural vitamin E, the tocotrienols, which may be effective in treating strokes and for nerve regeneration.

In his presentation, Neil E. Levin, a Chicago area clinical nutritionist with an extensive background in vitamins, reviewed the large number of scientific studies showing that people taking the anti-oxidant vitamin E had better heart health.

Negative Study Had Flaws

Although the authors of the negative study admitted it had flaws and cautioned not to generally apply their results, that review still influences media reports on vitamin E safety. More rigorous reviews, such as in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, concluded that the data actually showed no risks at doses up to 1,600 IU, but that clarification failed to stem the negative reports that caused a reported 19 percent drop in vitamin E use.

Needlessly Scared Away

“Most reporters are not trained to understand scientific jargon, and certainly not to scrutinize how a study is conducted to sniff out inaccurate conclusions, but they have needlessly scared people away from an important vitamin that is deficient in most Americans’ diet,” Levin said.

“Conflicting evidence has left consumers unsure of vitamin E’s benefits and wary of harm,” Professor Watson said. “Poor journalism has created consumer confusion.”

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