Health and Disease, Uncategorized, Vitamins and Supplements

K2 a MUST to Prevent Cardiac Problems

heart2

Without Vitamin K2, Vitamin D May Actually Encourage Heart Disease

 

Vitamin K2 is thought to reduce coronary calcification, thereby decreasing your risk of cardiovascular disease. However, studies have reported inconsistent results — possibly because of the different effects of vitamin K1 (phylloquinone) and vitamin K2 (menaquinone or MK). Few studies have included both.

 

At least one study, however, has investigated the association of intake of phylloquinone and menaquinone with coronary calcification. The intake of both forms of the vitamin was estimated using a food-frequency questionnaire. It was found that K2 had an effect on coronary calcification, but K1 did not.

 

According to the study:

 

“This study shows that high dietary menaquinone [Ks] intake, but probably not phylloquinone [K1], is associated with reduced coronary calcification. Adequate menaquinone intakes could therefore be important to prevent cardiovascular disease.”

 

 

Vitamin K is an extremely important vitamin to have in your diet; it may very well be the next vitamin D in terms of the numerous health benefits it may provide. But, according to Dr. Cees Vermeer, one of the world’s top researchers in the field of vitamin K, nearly everyone is deficient in vitamin K — just like most are deficient in vitamin D.

 

Most people get enough vitamin K from their diets to maintain adequate blood clotting, but NOT enough to offer protection against health problems like arterial calcification and cardiovascular disease. Yet, as the study above showed, adequate amounts of the right type of vitamin K may offer immense benefits to your heart health, including reducing coronary calcification and thereby decreasing your risk of heart disease.

 

Which Type of Vitamin K May be Best for Your Heart?

Vitamin K comes in two forms — K1 or K2 — and it is important to understand the differences between them.

 

Vitamin K1 (phylloquinone): Found in green vegetables, K1 goes directly to your liver and helps you maintain a healthy blood clotting system. (This is the kind of vitamin K that infants are often given at birth to help prevent a serious bleeding disorder.) It is also vitamin K1 that keeps your own blood vessels from calcifying, and helps your bones retain calcium and develop the right crystalline structure.

Vitamin K2 (menaquinone, MK): Bacteria produce this type of vitamin K. It is present in high quantities in your gut, but unfortunately is not absorbed from there and passes out in your stool. K2 goes straight to vessel walls, bones, and tissues other than your liver. It is present in fermented foods, particularly cheese and the Japanese food natto, which is by far the richest source of K2.

Vitamin K3, or menadione, is a third form that is synthetic and manmade, which I do not recommend. Each type of vitamin K has different roles in your body, and emerging research is showing that vitamin K2, not K1, may be especially important. For instance, research published in Atherosclerosis found that high dietary intake of vitamin K2 is associated with reduced coronary calcification (hardening of the arteries), a result that should also lessen your risk of heart disease.

 

What made this study unique was that it compared dietary intakes of both vitamin K1 and K2, and only K2 showed a benefit. Vitamin K1 was NOT associated with reduced coronary calcification. This is consistent with separate research also showing superior health benefits from vitamin K2, including:

 

The Rotterdam Study, the first study demonstrating the beneficial effect of vitamin K2, showed that people who consume 45 mcg of K2 daily live seven years longer than people getting 12 mcg per day.

The Prospect Study, in which 16,000 people were followed for 10 years. Researchers found that each additional 10 mcg of K2 in the diet results in 9 percent fewer cardiac events, whereas vitamin K1 did not offer a significant heart benefit.

Why Might Vitamin K2 be so Beneficial for Your Heart?

Vitamin K engages in a delicate dance with vitamin D; whereas vitamin D provides improved bone development by helping you absorb calcium, there is new evidence that vitamin K2 directs the calcium to your skeleton, while preventing it from being deposited where you don’t want it — i.e., your organs, joint spaces, and arteries. A large part of arterial plaque consists of calcium deposits (atherosclerosis), hence the term “hardening of the arteries.”

 

Vitamin K2 activates a protein hormone called osteocalcin, produced by osteoblasts, which is needed to bind calcium into the matrix of your bone. Osteocalcin also appears to help prevent calcium from depositing into your arteries. In other words, without the help of vitamin K2, the calcium that your vitamin D so effectively lets in might be working AGAINST you — by building up your coronary arteries rather than your bones.

 

This is why if you take calcium and vitamin D but are deficient in vitamin K, you could be worse off than if you were not taking those supplements at all, as demonstrated by a recent meta-analysis linking calcium supplements to heart attacks.

 

This meta-analysis looked at studies involving people taking calcium in isolation, without complementary nutrients like magnesium, vitamin D and vitamin K, which help keep your body in balance. In the absence of those other important cofactors, calcium CAN have adverse effects, such as building up in coronary arteries and causing heart attacks, which is really what this analysis detected. So if you are going to take calcium, you need to be sure you have balanced it out with vitamin D and vitamin K.

 

Vitamin K2 Helps Produce Heart-Protective Protein MGP

Another route by which vitamin K offers heart-protective benefits is through the Matrix GLA Protein (or MGP), the protein responsible for protecting your blood vessels from calcification. When your body’s soft tissues are damaged, they respond with an inflammatory process that can result in the deposition of calcium into the damaged tissue. When this occurs in your blood vessels, you have the underlying mechanism of coronary artery disease — the buildup of plaque — that can lead you down the path to a heart attack.

 

Vitamin K and vitamin D again work together to increase MGP, which, in healthy arteries, congregates around the elastic fibers of your tunica media (arterial lining), guarding them against calcium crystal formation.

 

According to Professor Cees Vermeer:

 

“The only mechanism for arteries to protect themselves from calcification is via the vitamin K-dependent protein MGP. MPG is the most powerful inhibitor of soft tissue calcification presently known, but non-supplemented healthy adults are insufficient in vitamin K to a level that 30 percent of their MGP is synthesized in an inactive form. So, protection against cardiovascular calcification is only 70 percent in the young, healthy population, and this figure decreases at increasing age.”

 

Four More Reasons to Make Sure Your Diet Includes Vitamin K2

Vitamin K not only helps to prevent hardening of your arteries, which is a common factor in coronary artery disease and heart failure, it also offers several other important benefits to your health.

 

Fight Cancer …

 

Vitamin K has been found beneficial in the fight against non-Hodgkin lymphoma, liver, colon, stomach, prostate, nasopharynx, and oral cancers, and some studies have even suggested vitamin K may be used therapeutically in the treatment of patients with lung cancer, liver cancer, and leukemia.     Improve Bone Density …

 

Vitamin K is one of the most important nutritional interventions for improving bone density. It serves as the biological “glue” that helps plug the calcium into your bone matrix.

 

Studies have shown vitamin K to be equivalent to Fosamax-type osteoporosis drugs, with far fewer side effects.

Stave off Varicose Veins …

 

Inadequate levels of vitamin K may reduce the activity of the matrix GLA protein (MGP), which in turn has been identified as a key player in the development of varicosis, or varicose veins.               Lower Your Risk of Diabetes …

 

People with the highest intakes of vitamin K from their diet had a 20 percent lower risk of diabetes compared with those with the lowest intakes, according to the latest research from University Medical Center Utrecht in the Netherlands. Past studies have also shown vitamin K to help reduce the progression of insulin resistance.

How Much Vitamin K2 do You Need?

How many people have adequate vitamin K2? Just about zero, according to Dr. Vermeer and other experts in the field. But at this time there is really no commercial test that can give you an accurate measure of your levels. Vitamin K measurements in blood plasma can be done accurately, but the results are really not helpful because they mainly reflect “what you ate yesterday,” according to Dr. Vermeer.

 

Dr. Vermeer and his team have developed and patented a very promising laboratory test to assess vitamin K levels indirectly by measuring circulating MGP. Their studies have indicated this to be a very reliable method to assess the risk for arterial calcification — hence cardiac risk. They are hoping to have this test available to the public within one to two years for a reasonable price, and several labs are already interested. They are also working on developing a home test that would be available at your neighborhood drug store.

 

In the meantime, since nearly 100 percent of people don’t get sufficient amounts of vitamin K2 from their diet to reap its health benefits, you can assume you need to bump up your vitamin K2 levels by modifying your diet or taking a high-quality supplement.

 

As for dietary sources, eating lots of green vegetables, especially kale, spinach, collard greens, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts, will increase your vitamin K1 levels naturally. For vitamin K2, cheese and especially cheese curd is an excellent source. The starter ferment for both regular cheese and curd cheese contains bacteria — lactococci and proprionic acids bacteria — which both produce K2.

 

You can also obtain all the K2 you’ll need (about 200 micrograms) by eating 15 grams of natto daily, which is half an ounce. It’s a small amount and very inexpensive, but many Westerners do not enjoy the taste and texture.

 

If you don’t care for the taste of natto, the next best thing is a high-quality K2 supplement. Remember you must always take your vitamin K supplement with fat since it is fat-soluble and won’t be absorbed without it.

 

Although the exact dosing is yet to be determined, Dr. Vermeer recommends between 45 mcg and 185 mcg daily for adults. You must use caution on the higher doses if you take anticoagulants, but if you are generally healthy and not on these types of medications, I suggest 150 mcg daily.

 

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Health and Disease, Lifestyle, Uncategorized

Heart Disease: 4 out of 5 Heart Attacks are Not From a Block Artery.

heart

 

Heart Disease and Its Treatment

 

Did You Know That 4 in 5 Heart Attacks Are Not Caused by Blocked Arteries?

 

Heart disease is one of the most common chronic health problems in the United States, and we’re wasting tens of billions of dollars on ineffective treatments and surgical procedures. In this interview, Dr. Thomas Cowan, a practicing physician and founding board member of the Weston A. Price Foundation, shares recently published data1,2 showing the ineffectiveness of stents — a commonly performed surgical procedure used to remediate damage from coronary artery disease.

 

Stents Were Never Indicated for Anything but Angina Relief

There are a number of parameters that are crucial for evaluating the efficacy of a treatment for heart disease. For instance, will the patient actually live longer as a result of that intervention? Mortality is one parameter of assessment. Another parameter is the risk of heart attack as a result of the intervention. Alleviation of angina (chest pain) is a third. “There’s probably more, but those are the three big ones,” Cowan says.

 

Earlier research had already dismissed the use of percutaneous interventions (PCI) for most of these parameters, showing the use of stents had no impact on long-term rates of death, nonfatal myocardial infarctions (MI) or hospitalization rates for acute coronary syndrome. The sole indication for the use of stents was angina, as some of the findings showed it helped reduce prevalence of chest pain.

 

“What that means is the state of the literature, before this current Lancet study, was that doing stents or other interventions … has never been shown to help people live longer or to prevent further heart attacks. They have been shown to be of aid in people who are having an acute MI, but in anything but that indication, the state of the science was that they don’t help people live longer, and they don’t prevent further heart attacks.

 

As this study says, the indication was for relieving angina … It was actually not appropriate, and possibly even not allowed, to tell somebody we were doing a bypass or stent so that you would live longer or not have a heart attack. You could tell them that you could do it because you’re having chest pain, and this will relieve your chest pain,” Cowan notes.

 

Do Stents Actually Relieve Angina?

Interestingly, there had never been a double-blind study assessing whether, in fact, stent placement relieves angina. The reason for this lack of data was because doing such a study was considered unethical. In a nutshell, it was assumed that stents were beneficial, and therefore denying patients of this benefit would place them at risk.

 

Eventually, though, a group of interventional cardiologists in England got approval from the review board to perform a comparative study in which half the patients with stable angina received a stent, while the other half received sham surgery. The sham surgery consisted of inserting and removing a catheter in the artery without actually placing a stent. The level of chest pain and exercise tolerance was then assessed and compared between the two groups.

 

Lo and behold, there was no difference in chest pain (angina) between the treatment group and the sham group. This means that the one and only indication for doing a stent, which is to relieve angina, is also invalid. “It’s hard to come up with what the indication is at this point, except in the rare instance of an acute MI,” Cowan says.

 

Blocked Arteries Are but One Symptom of a Diffuse Systemic Disease

The ultimate tragedy here, aside from the exorbitant cost, is that patients continue receiving this useless intervention even though there are several simple strategies that are known to be effective, are far less expensive and pose no risk to the patient.

 

“The Atlantic … had one of the most … provocative, quotes I’ve ever heard from a standard cardiologist,” Cowan says. “This was from Dr. Mandrola … Her quote … summarizes exactly what we’re talking about … Quote: ‘This study will begin to change the mindset of cardiologists and patients that focal blockages need to be fixed.’

 

Focal blockages are these blocked arteries that they put the stents in. Quote: ‘Instead, these findings help doctors and patients understand that coronary artery disease is a diffuse systemic disease. A focal blockage is just one manifestation of a larger disease’ …

 

Now, the thing that was so shocking to me about that is… this is literally the first time I’ve ever heard a cardiologist admit that there is a diffuse focal disease here, of which blocked arteries is only one of the manifestations. That is such a heretical position. I’ve never heard a cardiologist say that. They say, ‘You have blocked arteries. That’s your problem. We’re going to unblock your arteries.’

 

To suggest that what they have is a systemic disease changes everything. I can’t emphasize that enough. This is not a blocked artery disease. A blocked artery may or may not be significant symptom in this disease. The question that I would ask every listener [to pose to their cardiologist is] … ‘I wonder what diffuse systemic disease this [blocked artery] is a manifestation of?’

 

I mean, that’s the question. ‘I’ve heard there’s a cardiologist who’s saying that this blocked artery is only one manifestation,’ which then, of course, is a perfect explanation for why stents don’t work. [Blocked arteries are] not the disease. They’re just one of the symptoms of the disease. ‘If that’s the case, then what’s my disease?’ I would be very interested to hear the answer.”

 

High Cholesterol Does Not Cause Heart Attacks

As noted by Cowan, many cardiologists would probably answer that question saying the underlying problem is high cholesterol. Alas, the evidence does not support this position either. “I actually looked up four papers, [one] in JAMA, three in The Lancet, showing that life expectancy tends to increase as cholesterol goes up, and that there is no relationship between high cholesterol and death,” Cowan says.

 

Many other studies have also come to this conclusion. In short, the “diffuse systemic disease” behind blocked arteries is NOT high cholesterol. So, what is? The answer to this question is detailed in Cowan’s book, “Human Heart, Cosmic Heart,” which we reviewed in an earlier interview. The book explores and tries to answer the question of why people have heart attacks if it’s not blocked arteries.

 

In his 2004 book, “The Etiopathogenesis of Coronary Heart Disease,”3 the late Dr. Giorgio Baroldi wrote that the largest study done on heart attack incidence revealed only 41 percent of people who have a heart attack actually have a blocked artery, and of those, 50 percent of the blockages occur after the heart attack, not prior to it. This means at least 80 percent of heart attacks are not associated with blocked arteries at all. So, what’s really the cause of a heart attack? Cowan explains:

 

“It’s obviously complex, and there’s a number of manifestations, but the three most important things that I point out in my book is, No. 1 … at least 90 percent of people who have a heart attack have an autonomic nervous system imbalance. Specifically, they have a suppressed parasympathetic nervous system tone, which is caused by a number of things, including chronic stress, poor sleep, high blood pressure, diabetes, i.e. a high-sugar, low-fat type of diet [and] smoking …

 

Conventional cardiologists are certainly aware of the role of the autonomic nervous system, which is why standard cardiology care includes beta blockers, which block the sympathetic nervous system, but again, the actual research on this does not show chronic high sympathetic activity. It shows chronic low parasympathetic activity. I would admit they’re similar, but they’re not the same.

 

What’s dangerous to people’s health is chronic stress, chronic sleep deprivation, high carbohydrate diet, low mitochondrial function. All the things that you talk about in your book [‘Fat for Fuel’] that leads to low sympathetic tone. Then, in the face of a sympathetic stressor, you have a heart attack. It’s not the same to say it’s a sympathetic overactivity, which is why I think we could do a lot better than blocking the sympathetic nervous system.”

 

The Riddle’s Solution

The second reason for heart attacks, Cowan explains, is lack of microcirculation to the heart. To understand how the blood flows to and through your heart, check out the Riddle’s Solution section on heartattacknew.com’s FAQ page.4 There, you’ll find detailed images of what the actual blood flow looks like. Contrary to popular belief, blood flow is not restricted to just two, three or four coronary arteries (opinions differ on the actual number).

 

Rather, you have a multitude of smaller blood vessels, capillaries, feeding blood into your heart, and if one or more of your main arteries get blocked, your body will automatically sprout new blood vessels to make up for the reduced flow. In other words, your body performs its own bypass. According to Cowan, your body is “perfectly capable of bringing the blood to whatever area of the heart it needs, and as long as your capillary network is intact, you will be protected from having a heart attack.”

 

Naturally, this raises the question of what might cause an individual to not have a robust network of capillaries. Not surprisingly, the same factors that cause low sympathetic tone also lead to loss of microcirculation. For example, smoking has a corrosive effect on microcirculation, not just in your extremities but also your heart. A high-sugar, low-fat diet, prediabetes and diabetes, and chronic inflammation also reduce microcirculation.

 

“We know that overt diabetes actually corrodes and destroys your microcirculation, your capillary network,” Cowan says. “That’s a predominant reason. We have millions of people living on high-carbohydrate diets, low-fat diets, which has an inflammatory effect on their microcirculation. There are other reasons, too, but those are probably the big ones.”

 

Naturally, one of the most effective ways to encourage and improve microcirculation is physical movement, so chronic inactivity will also deteriorate your body’s ability to maintain healthy microcirculation. “Again, conventional cardiology is aware of this issue. That’s why they use Plavix and aspirin, to keep the microcirculation intact,” Cowan notes.

 

The Role of Mitochondria in Heart Attacks

Another area of concern is your mitochondria. Unfortunately, this is an area that conventional cardiology is still largely unfamiliar with. In essence, angina is a symptom of poor mitochondrial function, causing a buildup of lactic acid that triggers cramps and pain. When this pain and cramping occurs in your heart, it’s called angina. The lactic acid buildup also restricts blood flow and makes the tissue more toxic.

 

When a cramp occurs in your leg, you stop moving it, which allows some of the lactic acid to drain off. But your heart cannot stop, so the glycolytic fermentation continues, and the lactic acid continues to build up, eventually interfering with the ability of calcium to get into the muscle. This in turn renders the muscle — in this case your heart — unable to contract, which is exactly what you see on a stress echo or a nuclear thallium scan.

 

“You see a dyskinetic or an akinetic muscle, which means it doesn’t move, because the calcium can’t get into the cells because the tissue has become too acidic,” Cowan explains. “Eventually, the acidosis continues, and that becomes the cause of necrosis of the tissue, which is what we call a heart attack …

 

By the way … [the] dyskinetic area … the part of the heart that’s not moving, creates pressure … in the artery embedded in that part of the heart, which causes clots to break off. That explains why you get clots forming after the heart attack, not before. This lactic acidosis buildup is one of the key events, without which you won’t have angina, and you won’t have the progression to necrosis.

 

Those are the three [primary causes of heart attacks]: The autonomic nervous system, the microcirculation and lactic acid buildup. Luckily, there are safe, nontoxic, effective ways to address each of those, either individually or together.”

 

Enhanced External Counterpulsation — A Noninvasive Treatment Alternative

One highly effective and noninvasive treatment option that will help improve microcirculation to your heart — which, again, is a common factor responsible for heart attacks — is enhanced external counterpulsation (EECP). It’s a Medicare insurance-approved therapy, and studies show EECP alone can relieve about 80 percent of angina.

 

As explained earlier, the reason you don’t experience a heart attack due to blockage is because you’re protected by collateral circulation. However, if you have diabetes or chronic inflammation, that will eventually deteriorate your capillaries, reducing this built-in protection. EECP works by inflating compression cuffs on your thighs and calves that are synchronized with your EKG.

 

When your heart is in diastole (relaxed), the balloons inflate, forcing blood toward your heart, thereby forcing the growth of new capillaries. It’s a really powerful and safe alternative to coronary bypass surgery for most people. Rather than bypassing one or two large arteries, you create thousands of new capillary beds that supply even more blood than the bypassed vessels. As noted by Cowan:

 

“New blood vessels mean more blood flow, and the blockage becomes irrelevant. This has been shown to be curative, meaning it will stop people with angina for at least five to seven years with one course of treatment … sometimes longer. It’s Medicare approved.

 

It’s paid for by insurance. It’s been studied in the literature. Again, at least 80 percent effective for getting rid of patients’ angina, which, by the way, was the last [indication] for stents, which is now no longer [a valid indication].”

 

The sessions are about one hour long, and most patients will need about 35 sessions to receive benefit. Aside from angina, it’s also effective for heart failure and diastolic dysfunction. Many elite athletes also use it as an aid to maintain cardiac fitness when they are injured and unable to actively exercise, as EECP basically works as a passive form of exercise. To find a provider, visit EECP.com.5

 

Interestingly, EECP also appears to have hormonal benefits. There are studies showing it results in decreased insulin resistance. Many patients also tend to lose weight, and experience improved blood sugar control. There’s cause to believe these beneficial side effects are related to the fact that it mimics exercise.

 

I was so intrigued with EECP’s benefits that I actually purchased one. They aren’t cheap; the traditional ones are close to $50,000, but I found a bright young entrepreneur, Louis Manera, who was well connected in the EECP community and is actually in the process of providing great new units at a significant discount. If you are a clinician, or even a patient with heart disease, this is something you might want to consider.

 

Other Commonsense Prevention Strategies

As noted by Cowan: Heart disease is “a diffuse systemic disease, and every person who goes to a cardiologist, I think, has the … right to know what this diffuse systemic disease is that’s being treated … I have my three-step opinion about what’s going on … The problem is I’ve never heard any cogent explanation in standard cardiology of what diffuse systemic disease they think they’re treating, besides high cholesterol, which turns out to be a red herring … People with higher cholesterol live longer, so that’s not the problem.” To summarize, three of the core, underlying issues at play that cause heart attacks are:

 

Decreased parasympathetic tone followed by sympathetic nervous system activation

Collateral circulation failure (lack of microcirculation to the heart)

Lactic acid buildup in the heart muscle due to impaired mitochondrial function

So, what can you do to prevent and treat these heart attack triggers? Here’s a quick summary of some of Cowan’s suggestions:

 

Eat a whole food-based diet low in net carbs and high in healthy fats, and add in beet juice (or fermented beet powder) to help normalize your blood pressure. Fresh arugula or fermented arugula powder is another option

 

Get plenty of non-exercise movement each day; walk more and incorporate higher intensity exercise as your health allows

 

Intermittently fast. Once you’ve progressed to the point of fasting for 20 hours each day for a month, consider doing a four- or five-day water fast several times a year

 

If you have heart disease, look into EECP, and consider taking g-strophanthin, an adrenal hormone that helps create more parasympathetic nervous system neurotransmitters, thereby supporting your parasympathetic nervous system. It also helps flush out lactic acid. Strophanthus is the name of the plant, the active ingredient of which is called g-strophanthin in Europe, and ouabain in the United States

 

Ground to the earth by walking barefoot on the ground

 

Get sensible sun exposure to optimize your vitamin D status and/or take an oral vitamin D3 supplement with vitamin K2

 

Implement heart-based wellness practices such as connecting with loved ones and practicing gratitude

 

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Dr A Sullivan

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Vitamins and Supplements

Beta-Carotene Supplements May Increase Mortality Risk

betacarotene

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) Jun 12 – Beta-carotene supplementation leads to a small but significant increase in all-cause mortality and mortality from cardiovascular disease (CVD), according to results of a new meta-analysis reported in the June 14th issue of The Lancet. And while vitamin E supplementation is associated with no such risk, it does not exhibit clinically beneficial effects. Dr. Marc S. Penn and associates at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation in Ohio analyzed seven randomized controlled trials of vitamin E treatment and eight trials of beta-carotene treatment, all of which included at least 1000 patients.

Beta-carotene use was examined in close to 140,000 patients, among whom all-cause mortality rate was 7.4% in the active treatment group and 7.0% in the control group (p = 0.003). In the six trials that evaluated cardiovascular death specifically, rates of death were 3.4% in the treatment group and 3.1% in the control group. Only one trial failed to show a detrimental effect of beta-carotene on death rates. Dr. Penn’s group points out that beta-carotene has adverse effects on lipids, and that cigarette smoking destabilizes the beta-carotene molecule with deleterious results.

Therefore, “the use of vitamin supplements containing beta-carotene and vitamin A… should be actively discouraged,” they conclude, and “clinical studies of beta-carotene should be discontinued.” Among the more than 80,000 patients included in vitamin E trials, the lack of efficacy leads the authors to “not support the continued use of vitamin E treatment.”

In fact, Dr. Penn told Reuters Health that a previous study has shown that vitamin E can block the effects of statins and niacin, which are established therapies. “So I think there’s no evidence they’re good and there is a hint that they may be harmful.” Therefore, Dr. Penn and his associates recommend that vitamin E be excluded in trials of patients at high risk of coronary artery disease. Dr. Penn also noted that ophthalmologists recommend large doses of vitamin supplements for macular degeneration. Certainly, if there is a risk of other diseases, and beta-carotene has been shown to be efficacious, the supplements should still be taken, he added.

Otherwise, “we should really be focusing on healthy diets,” he said. “The concept of vitamin supplements to overcome bad dietary habits is not a valid thesis, at least with vitamin E and beta carotene.”

However, the Council for Responsible Nutrition, a trade association representing the dietary supplement industry, blasted the Cleveland Clinic’s analysis, calling it “irresponsible, over interpreted, and old news disguised as something new for publicity purposes,” in a press statement.

The Council further notes that beta-carotene risk is associated primarily with smoking. They also maintain that vitamin E has potential benefits for vision, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer and coronary disease.

References: Lancet 2003;361:2017-2023.

Karla Gayle

Health and Wellness Associates

Chicago IL

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