by Reginald B. Cherry, M.D.
Question: I've heard news reports that say high doses of vitamin E might be associated with an increase in death rates in people. Are the reports true, and should I stop taking E?

Answer: The study being cited is what is known as a "meta-analysis." It is so named because data derived from previous studies is pooled together and studied to form a conclusion.

In this case, 19 existing studies were pooled. The researchers involved found that doses of vitamin E at or below 150 IU (International Units) per day tended to lower death rates and doses higher than 150 IU per day tended to raise them.


Many other researchers believe that a meta-analysis cannot provide scientific proof of anything. That's because it is based on the data of other studies, each of which researched population groups differently and used differing methods to obtain facts.

For instance, some studies cited in this analysis used natural vitamin E, and others used synthetic vitamin E. Some involved people with cardiovascular disease; others involved people with cataracts. Some combined vitamin E with other vitamins; others used it alone. Because of the diverse characteristics and methodologies of all these studies, any analysis based on pooling of their data is considered scientifically imprecise.

Several other problems exist with this meta-analysis: The study populations it cited were made up of people who were chronically ill.

With sick people, very high doses of vitamin E (up to 2,000 IU per day in some of the studies) must be used with caution. And for people with serious diseases, a complete assessment needs to be made of medical history, current condition, use of medications and so forth.

The fact that high doses of vitamin E were associated with a slight increase in mortality in sick people provides no evidence that vitamin E is harmful to healthy people.

Perhaps the most profound flaw in the analysis is that in all the studies vitamin E was used in its isolated, "alpha-tocopherol" form. Vitamin E is actually a family of nutrients consisting of four tocopherols (alpha, beta, gamma and delta) and four tocotrienols (alpha, beta, gamma and delta). To simplify, just remember the "4 + 4 rule"--each side of the "nutrient family" has four "members."

In its food form, vitamin E always exists as some combination of these eight elements. In most nutritional supplements, however, vitamin E (natural or synthetic) is almost always provided only as isolated alpha-tocopherol.

For optimal health benefits, the various forms of vitamin E need to be taken together. They work together as an antioxidant team.

Each form of vitamin E has its own role on the team. For instance, tocotrienols have been shown to reduce the level of harmful LDL cholesterol, leading to a lowered risk of heart disease. They also are able to clear atherosclerotic blockage in the carotid artery, greatly reducing the risk of stroke.

Tocotrienols also inhibit the growth of cancer cells. In addition, alpha-tocopherol and gamma-tocopherol have proved to be effective in inhibiting the growth specifically of prostate-cancer cells.

When taking vitamin E, it's important to remember that it should always be provided as a complex--as alpha-tocopherol plus mixed tocopherols plus tocotrienols.

The authors of the meta-analysis acknowledge that isolated alpha- tocopherol has been shown to displace other forms of vitamin E in the body. They offer this as a possible explanation of their negative findings on vitamin E. I agree with this explanation.

As a physician, I know that nutritional supplements can provide optimal health benefits only if they consist of nutrients in their most complete, natural and bio-available forms. The vitamin E in these pooled studies failed to meet that requirement.

God, for a reason, has put together a vitamin E family, each member working together to give you maximum protection against disease. The next time you pick up a bottle of vitamin E, look at the label and ask yourself if it is based on the 4 + 4 rule.

Draw closer to God. Experience the presence of the Holy Spirit every month as you read Charisma magazine. Sign up now to get Charisma for as low as $1 per issue.

Get to know the Holy Spirit and how to interact with Him on a daily basis. Learn to enter God's presence and hear His voice clearly for yourself! Go deeper in your faith with Life in the Spirit and change your life and destiny. Are you ready to start your journey?

Your Turn

Comment Guidelines
View/Add Comments
  • Hillary Clinton

    What if Hillary Clinton Wins the White House?

    Polls have Mrs. Clinton leading by 11 points. The church must be prepared.

  • Holy Spirit prophetic

    7 Ways to Cultivate Sensitivity to the Holy Spirit

    Too many of God's people are led by fear, doubt, man-pleasing, presumption, assumption, idols ...

  • Jezebel puppets

    10 Ways to Spot Jezebel's Spiritually Slick Undercover Con Artists

    It's time to stop tolerating Jezebel in all its many manifestations.

  • Highway exit signs

    Prophetic Word: Watch for the Exit Signs to Light Up This Season

    Don't be afraid to get your hands dirty in the harvest fields. The "barnyard anointing" ...

  • Finger pointing

    The Accuser vs. Donald Trump—and Us All

    This isn't a political persuasion piece, but a current-event case study in the strategies of ...

  • Daily scripture reading, meditation and prayer can seem elusive with your busy schedule.

    10 Small Steps to Deeper Intimacy With Holy Spirit in Your Quiet Times

    If deep quiet times seem just out of your reach with your busy schedule, try one of these ...

  • Lance Wallnau

    Lance Wallnau Is on Fire and on Target With His Insights on the Culture and This Election

    I'm sickened by the self-righteous, weak-kneed "evangelicals" who want to be liked by ...

  • In October, many things will be realigned in your life, including your vision.

    5 Prophetic Revelations About God's October Surprise

    "The winds of apostolic change are blowing across the land and realigning you."

  • Continue Your Journey with the Holy Spirit

    Continue Your Journey with the Holy Spirit

    Follow God on the most fulfilling journey of your life with Encounter the Holy Spirit! Break away from past hurts and press into the One who wants a personal encounter with you.

  • Dream the Unimaginable In His Presence

    Dream the Unimaginable In His Presence

    Reach your full potential and be led by His Spirit. In His Presence takes you to a deeper understanding of who God is and how he communicates with us.

  • Set Your Spirit on Fire

    Set Your Spirit on Fire

    Receive the power and gifts that come through the Holy Spirit Baptism. Don’t go empty-handed; accept all that He has for you! His power is available to those who ask.

  • Put on the Full Armor of God

    Put on the Full Armor of God

    Break every stronghold with the power of the Holy Spirit. Use the power of your tongue to declare and decree the Word of God. Witness heaven move on your behalf.

Use Desktop Layout
Charisma Magazine — Empowering believers for life in the Spirit