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"Food for Thought: Go easy on vitamin E pills"

Globe and Mail

Source: Globe and Mail

Published: 13 Jul 2022

Category: Other

Rating: (3½ stars)

what they said (Hover the mouse cursor over underlined words for more info)

Over the past 15 years, vitamin E supplements have become a common addition to many medicine cabinets. That's not surprising for a nutrient touted as helping prevent heart disease, cancer, cataracts and even Alzheimer's disease.

Yet recent reports that vitamin E is not the cure-all we once thought it to be, and that it may even cause harm, have prompted many people to toss their bottles of it into the trash bin.
The most recent study, published last week in the Journal of the American Medical Association, adds to the disappointing findings about vitamin E's role in health.

Researchers from Harvard Medical School found that 600 international units of vitamin E, taken every other day, provided no overall benefit for protection against heart attack, stroke or cancer among almost 40,000 healthy American women aged 45 or older.

The original article can be found at:

The original article can found in the Media Doctor archives.

how did it rate? (more information)

Criteria Rating
Total Score 7 of 10
Availability of Treatment Satisfactory (?)
Novelty of Treatment Satisfactory (?)
Disease Mongering Satisfactory (?)
Treatment Options Satisfactory (?)
Costs of Treatment Not Satisfactory (?)
Evidence Satisfactory (?)
Quantification of Benefits of Treatment Satisfactory (?)
Harms of Treatment Satisfactory (?)
Sources of Information Not Satisfactory (?)
Relies on Press Release Not Applicable
Quantification of harms of treatment Not Satisfactory (?)

what we said (Hover the mouse cursor over underlined words for more info)

This is a relatively robust report of the evidence around the use of vitamin E supplements. The author provides good content as to the quality of the research (RCT's vs. observational studies) and reports benefits in absolute terms. However, reporting the absolute benefits of placebo vs. vitamin E, so people can judge the strength of the benefit and the degree of baseline risk, would have been more helpful. Although helpful to report the results from several different studies, the reader would also have been better served by reporting the magnitude of harms associated with high doses of vitamin E.

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