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Vitamin E's Lack Of Heart Benefit Linked To Dosage

The reported failure of vitamin E to prevent heart attacks may be due to underdosing, according to a new study by investigators at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

The findings, published early online in Free Radical Biology and Medicine, suggest that these earlier studies all had a fundamental flaw the doses used weren't high enough to have a significant antioxidant effect. In fact, no studies have ever conclusively demonstrated the dose at which vitamin E can be considered an antioxidant drug, the researchers report.

Oxidant injury, or oxidative stress, occurs when highly reactive molecules called free radicals attack and damage cellular proteins, lipids (fats) and DNA. Free radicals, which are byproducts of normal metabolism, are produced in excess in certain disease states, including heart disease.

Epidemiological data and animal studies suggested that antioxidant compounds like vitamin E, vitamin C and beta-carotene might offer some protection against heart attack in individuals at risk.

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