Diabetes MellitusVitamins

Vitamin E, diabetes, and heart disease

Vitamin E seems to make a positive contribution in certain people with diabetes, according to this study by researchers at Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa.

First, the details.

  • 1434 diabetic adults with the haptoglobin (Hp) 2-2 gene were randomly assigned to take vitamin E (400 (IU/day) or placebo.
    • Haptoglobins bind to red blood cells and protect against oxidative stress.
    • Patients with diabetes can have Hp 1-1, Hp 1-2, or Hp 2-2 (found in 40% of diabetics).
    • But Hp 2-2 is a weak anti-oxidant and places diabetics at 5 times higher risk of cardiovascular disease vs Hp 1-1.
  • The authors monitored the patients for any change in the risk of heart attack, stroke, and death due to cardiovascular causes (any death associated with the heart or blood vessels).

And, the results.

  • 18 months after starting the study, diabetics with the Hp 2-2 gene had a significantly lower risk of death due to cardiovascular causes (2%) vs the placebo group (5%).

The bottom line?
The authors concluded that genetic testing for the Hp 2-2 gene “may be useful to identify a large group of diabetes individuals who could potentially derive cardiovascular benefit from a very inexpensive treatment.”

A test to identify the diabetic patients with Hp 2-2 is not readily available yet.

Thinking of taking vitamin E capsules every day?

Be advised that the daily dose of vitamin E recommended by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is less than 20 mg, depending your sex, age, and other factors.

The 400 IU daily dose given in this study is less the maximum set by the NIH (1,500 IU). However, long-term effects are unknown. The upper limit approved by the NIH is thought not to be associated with any anticoagulant or bleeding problems.

5/18/08 18:46 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at www.Vicus.com, a complementary and alternative medicine website.