Should diabetics begin taking high doses of Vitamin E?

Did you ever notice that the flesh of a half eaten apple turns brown after a few minutes? It is the exposure to life giving oxygen (oxidation) in the air which is responsible for that brown discoloration. Oxidation does the same thing to our body’s delicate tissues and is why so many health experts recommend anti-oxidants for those who want to live longer and better. The good news is that one of the most popular anti-oxidants, Vitamin E, may do more than just preserve our tissues, but may also stimulate blood flow to vital organs. Nowhere is improved blood flow more essential than to the retina (back of the eye) in diabetics, who can become blind from diabetic eye disease (retinopathy). Retinopathy is thought to be in part due to reduced flow of oxygen rich blood to the retina.

Recently published research from the Joslin Diabetic Clinic in Boston (Diabetes Care, August 1999) shows that high doses (1800 IU daily) of Vitamin E significantly increased blood flow to the back of the eye in diabetics. Another benefit of Vitamin E was to improve kidney function which might also indicate better blood flow to the kidney.

Should diabetics begin taking high doses of Vitamin E? Although experts are presently divided on this topic I believe that at least moderate supplemental use of Vitamin E should be considered. Vitamin E is relatively harmless otherwise and the benefits appear to outweigh the potential risks.

Of course, always consult with your own health professional before changing your treatment plans.

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  • Samhain

    I thought there were risks and adverse reactions mentioned in a few studies of vitamin E over 2000 IU?

  • Hi Samhain…. I thought I would chime in about your Vitamin D and Vitamin E questions.
    Yes, Vitamin D3 is the appropriate supplement form, considered the “active” form of Vitamin D. Remember Vitamin D is actually a hormone and is produced from a cholesterol compound found on our skin in the presence of UV light from sun. We can produce up to 10,000 units of Vitamin D in about an hour in the sun, at the right time of day, season and latitude. Vitamin D is important to so many systems in our bodies, including the GI tract where it helps us to absorb calcium.

    As far as Vitamin E, it is actually a combination of 8 elements, 4 tocopherols and 4 tocotrienes. Most supplements are synthetic and only composed of d,l alpha tocopherol, SO if studies looked at only synthetic alpha tocopherol, they would not necessarily applied to natural forms of Vitamin E. 2,000 IU is an excessively high dose and may cause bleeding problems. Also, you may be referring to a meta-analysis that was done of all of the Vitamin E published studies. Some showed that people on the higher doses of Vitamin E died earlier HOWEVER those were the people who already had established heart disease and other maladies. I now research can be so confusing!
    THE BOTTOM LINE is to eat the most nutrient dense diet, including natural forms of Vitamin E and others. You can then add targeted nutrition support… and as always,

    Consider having an individualized consultation!

    Beth Ellen DiLuglio, MS, RD, CNSD, CCN, LD/N
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