Vitamin E: Managing The Fire For Heart Health
Vitamin E is one of the unsung heroes of nutrition. It is one of only two essential antioxidant vitamins and it helps to support the health of the heart and immune system. Coming off the heels of recently released data showing a relationship between vitamin E and lung function, new data shows that vitamin E can reduce the level of systemic inflammation.
Inflammation is widely believed to be a contributing factor to the development of health conditions such as cardiovascular disease and chronic respiratory and neurological diseases. A commonly used marker of inflammation is C-reactive protein (CRP) - a protein produced by the liver that increases in circulation when there is inflammation throughout the body. Elevated circulating CRP concentrations have been linked to an increased risk of heart disease. Vitamin E has a well-established role in defending against oxidative stress and maintaining the normal functioning of the immune system. The ability of vitamin E to maintain normal immune system functioning provides it with anti-inflammatory characteristics, and several clinical trials have been performed which have tested the impact of this essential nutrient on circulating CRP levels.
A newly released meta-analysis performed by Saboori et al. combined the results of 12 vitamin E supplementation trials with 495 participants where CRP levels were reported. When the results of these individual trials were pooled, the investigators reported an statistically significant CRP reduction of 0.62 mg/L. (To put this in perspective, a high CRP concentration would be above 3.0 mg/L, so a 0.62 mg/L reduction would certainly be clinically relevant).
These data reaffirm what we know but is not always widely appreciated: vitamin E is essential for heart health (among others - I’m looking at you, immune system). And yet, despite the ever-increasing level of evidence supporting the benefits of vitamin E, more than 90% of Americans do not meet the recommended intake of vitamin E from diet alone. Make an effort to increase your intake of vitamin E – consume natural dietary sources of vitamin E like nuts, seeds and oils, and look for fortified foods and dietary supplements to help close that vitamin E nutritional gap.
Saboori S, Shab-Bidar S, Speakman JR, et al. Effect of vitamin E supplementation on serum C-reactive protein level: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Eur J Clin Nutr 2015; Feb 11 (epub ahead of print).
Camps J, Garcia-Heredia A. Introduction: oxidation aind inflammation, a molecular link between non-communicable diseases. Adv Exper Med Biology 2014; 824: 1-4.
Fulgoni VL III, Keast DR, Bailey RL, Dwyer J. Foods, fortificants, and supplements: Where do Americans get their nutrients? J Nutr 2011; 141(10): 1847-1854.
Han SN, Meydani SN. Impact of vitamin E on immune function and its clinical implications. Expert Rev Clin Immunol 2006; 2(4): 561-567.