It seems that every time we turn around, a new study appears telling us how dangerous nutritional supplements are. The latest was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, that found that taking antioxidant supplements does not prolong life. On the contrary, the use of some antioxidants ( beta-carotene, vitamin A and Vitamin E) was associated with a small, increase in the risk of death.
Alan Gaby, MD who is well known and respected in the field of nutritional medicine recently wrote an article that challenges some of the recent negative articles that have appeared regarding antioxidants. In regards to vitamin E he comments that this vitamin occurs in food in four different forms – alpha-, beta-, gamma- and delta-tocopherol – virtually all of the research on vitamin E has used pure alpha-tocopherol. Alpha-tocopherol has a number of positive effects on cardiovascular function. Taking large amounts of alpha-tocopherol, however, can deplete gamma-tocopherol, a component of the “vitamin E complex” that may be even more important for the heart than alpha-tocopherol.
At the end of his article he cites a study that lasted 7.5 years and included more than 13,000 people, modest doses of a combination of vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, selenium, and zinc reduced the death rate in men by 37%. Further research is needed to determine what doses and combinations of nutrients are safest and most effective for people of different ages and different genders and with different health concerns and lifestyles.