Vitamin E Consumption and Lower Risk of Heart Disease

It is known that high blood cholesterol is related to heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease, and that there are multiple genes affecting these factors. Alzheimer’s disease itself is linked to nearly 50 genes. This is a review of studies that reveal that consumption of vitamin E, which has antioxidant properties, is linked to lower risk of heart disease. The authors conclude that vitamin E protects against a variety of age-related diseases that are linked to high blood cholesterol.

The aging process is linked to various heart and brain degenerative diseases. Some of these diseases are associated with genes, but the underlying mechanisms are not clear. It is speculated that damage due to oxidation of “free radicals” is a common thread in heart disease, age-related memory loss, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. This oxidative damage is further associated with high blood levels of cholesterol. Vitamin E is an essential nutrient in the human diet. Vitamin E is not synthesized by the body and thus needs to be supplemented in the diet. Vitamin E has been studied in detail by different researchers because of its antioxidant properties. This review analyzed the studies that show the effectiveness of vitamin E in the prevention of age-related diseases like heart disease or atherosclerosis, and brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease. The link between vitamin E and cholesterol-related oxidative damage has been explored in this review.

Key findings
* The studies show that a diet that is rich in cholesterol or which leads to increased blood cholesterol is associated with proteins that arise out of oxidative stress. Thus, the association between high blood cholesterol and oxidative damage is established.
* Excess blood cholesterol is also linked to the formation of specific “amyloid b proteins and peptides”. These increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Some of the 50 odd genes that are linked to Alzheimer’s disease have also been found to influence how the body metabolizes cholesterol from diet.
* The “tocotrienol” fraction of vitamin E in food has been found to especially lower blood cholesterol and its effects significantly.
* Some of the observational studies reveal that heavy consumption and high blood levels of vitamin E is linked to lower risk of heart disease, heart attacks and other age related diseases.

Next steps/Shortcomings
The authors admit that most of the clinical studies that attempted to show that vitamin E protects against the onset of age-related conditions like Alzheimer’s disease and heart disease have shown negative results. As yet, no concrete proof has been seen supporting the fact that these agents prevent the diseases. This is in spite of the fact that oxidative stress seems to be the cause behind these diseases. However, some studies have shown the benefits of antioxidants in the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease. Further studies are warranted.

This review of studies shows that oxidative damage is indeed the precursor of high blood cholesterol and age-related diseases such as heart attacks, coronary artery disease and dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Further studies also show that intake of vitamin E and its component parts like tocotrienol as an antioxidant can lower the risk of these diseases. In fact, tocotrienol in food can reduce blood cholesterol effectively. The authors hope that further studies and clinical trials with each of these components of Vitamin E may bring to light the effects of these antioxidants in the prevention of oxidative damage that leads to several age-related disease conditions.

For More Information:
Protective Effects of Vitamin E against Hypercholesterolemia-induced Age-related Diseases
Publication Journal: Genes Nutrition, May 2011
By Betul Catalgol; Nesrin Kartal Ozer; Marmara University, Haydarpasa, Istanbul, Turkey

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