The Durk Pearson & Sandy Shaw®
Life Extension NewsTM
Volume 11 No. 1 • January 2008

Vitamin E Reduces Oxidative Stress and Inflammation in Patients with Coronary Artery Disease

More papers continue to be published on the effects of antioxidants in the development of cardiovascular disease, despite failures in a few high-profile randomized controlled clinical trials. Importantly, more details are being sought on how cardiovascular disease initiation and progression are affected by nutrients such as vitamin E so that those people who would benefit (i.e., reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease) can be separated from those who may not benefit.

Another such paper1 was published recently. The authors evaluated the effects of RRR-alpha-tocopherol (natural alpha-tocopherol) as both an anti-inflammatory and an antioxidant in 90 patients with stable coronary artery disease on drug therapy. Patients received 1200 IU of vitamin E per day for two years. The results showed that the vitamin E-treated patients had significantly lower C-reactive protein, significantly reduced urinary F2-isoprostanes (a measure of oxidative stress), and significantly reduced release by monocytes of superoxide and tumor necrosis factor (inflammatory cytokine). However, no significant difference was found in total carotid IMT (intima-media thickness) or cardiovascular events seen between the patients and the controls.

This is interesting because the vitamin E effects seen are widely thought to be cardioprotective, but because the end results of IMT and cardiovascular events did not differ between the vitamin E-treated patients and the controls, it suggests that the overall disease process, which has been going on for many years before symptoms show up, is more resistant to short-term improvements in oxidative stress and inflammation by a single agent than was thought to be the case. This study does not, however, justify a conclusion that vitamin E was not beneficial to these patients, and longer-term follow-up might eventually detect improvements in IMT and cardiovascular events. Moreover, the decrease in CoQ10 production that results from statins that most patients with diagnosed cardiovascular disease are taking is a confounder that should be corrected for in antioxidant-cardiovascular disease studies, but never is. We do think that it is much more likely that a combination of antioxidants (though not at one-per-day multivitamin dosages) would provide better results.


  1. Devaraj et al. Effect of high-dose alpha-tocopherol supplementation on biomarkers of oxidative stress and inflammation and carotid atherosclerosis in patients with coronary artery disease. Am J Clin Nutr 86:1392-8 (2007).

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