As an antioxidant, Vitamin E has received plenty of attention as a role-player in everything from immunity to cellular health. One area that’s received surprisingly little attention, however, is its potential links to cardiovascular health. Few studies focus on the link between heart health and Vitamin E levels, but those with results hint at important connections worth studying further.
Here’s a look at some of the most-promising studies regarding Vitamin E and cardiovascular health, their findings and what they may indicate for Vitamin E’s potential to support the heart and vascular system as a whole.
1. “Bad” cholesterol control
In a 2013 study about Vitamin E supplementation and its effects on heart health, researchers noted the vitamin’s ability to reduce the prevalence of oxidized low-density lipoprotein (LDL)—commonly known as “bad cholesterol. The study reports that, “compared with placebo, vitamin E supplementation significantly reduced circulating oxidized LDL and reduced LDL oxidative susceptibility.”
While this is exciting news, it’s important to step back and look at the full study, which focuses on the importance of proper patient selection. What the study suggests is that while Vitamin E may be effective in controlling LDL, it’s not a silver bullet for those suffering from high cholesterol levels. Instead, well-regulated Vitamin E supplementation may be “cardioprotective in certain patient subgroups under high levels of oxidative stress, such as those individuals on hemodialysis or in diabetic individuals with the Hp 2-2 genotype.”
While you’re not likely to see Vitamin E marketed as a cholesterol control mechanism anytime soon, there’s evidence it may help specific groups of people better control their oxidized LDL levels, which ultimately improves heart health.
2. Blood pressure regulation
One of the best ways Vitamin E may contribute to heart health comes from a 2002 study. The triple-blind study focused on using Vitamin E supplements to treat individuals with mild to severe hypertension. Participants took 200IU tablets of Vitamin E daily for 27 weeks, with regular checks to blood pressure and heart rate.
The results of the study were “remarkable.” According to the authors, “it is concluded that a Vitamin E supplement of 200 IU/day can be effective in mild hypertensive patients in the long term, probably due to nitric oxide, and improve their blood pressure status.”
There is one caveat to this study, however: diet. Conducted in Iran, Middle-Eastern diets differ significantly from Western diets, which could have significant impact on both blood pressure and the effect of Vitamin E supplementation. No similar study has yet been conducted with a North American population.
3. Reduced chance of cardiac events
A recent 2020 study focused on the cardiovascular and metabolic benefits of Vitamin E found evidence of the vitamin’s ability to protect against cardiac events. According to findings, “promising data from observational studies have reported associations between higher vitamin E intake and higher vitamin E plasma levels and lower risk of cardiovascular events.”
The study goes on to name, specifically, the potential cardiac events that proper Vitamin E supplementation may reduce risk factors for, “such as hypertension, hyperlipidemia, venous thrombosis, DMT2, NAFLD/NASH, age, obesity, and metabolic syndrome.” Ultimately, the authors of the study recommend more research using different modes of Vitamin E supplementation, as well as more diverse cohorts.
This study is significant because, while scientists have studied similar approaches, no substantive evidence has ever come forth about a link between Vitamin E levels and their role as a risk factor for cardiac events.
4. Support for anemia
There are several studies that point to Vitamin E supplementation as a potential support treatment for those suffering from anemia. For children and infants with hemolytic anemia, this makes sense, since the catalyst for this condition is Vitamin E deficiency.
For those suffering from more generalized anemia, a 2017 study sheds light on the potential for Vitamin E supplementation to increase the body’s iron absorption capabilities. The findings concluded that, “changes of the gut microbiome raised the possibility that antioxidant therapy in conjunction with therapeutic iron supplementation could potentially improve microbial community profiles in the intestinal tract.” In other words, Vitamin E’s antioxidant properties may increase the rate of absorption of iron.
Vitamin E’s link to hemolytic anemia and its peripheral support for iron absorption have piqued the attention of scientists eager to study Vitamin E’s antioxidant potential as part of broader cardiovascular health.
An unlikely ally in cardiovascular health
Vitamin E is loosely studied as a contributor to cardiovascular health; however, the results are promising. There’s clear evidence that Vitamin E has links to factors that play a role in everything from hypertension to anemia—both of which impact cardiovascular wellness. Studies are ongoing about this relationship, but the fact that focus continues to look for ties between the two speaks volumes about the potential for future insights.