Life Extension Magazine®

Epidemic Deficiency of Vitamin E

A recent study found that higher vitamin E blood levels slashed the risk of dying over a 19-year period. More than 90% of Americans do not consume even the RDA of vitamin E in their diet, much less enough to protect against chronic disease. Despite this epidemic deficiency of vitamin E, the media, government, and medical establishment still question the value of supplemental vitamin E and other low-cost ways to protect against age-related disease.

Scientifically reviewed by: Dr. Gary Gonzalez, MD, in January 2021. Written by: Life Extension Editorial Staff.

by William Faloon

If people had to rely on the news media for accurate health information, they might be influenced into making some very poor decisions.

For instance, new studies about vitamin E are published every week. The findings from virtually all of these studies, however, remain buried in scientific journals—that is, unless there is an unfavorable outcome. Since vitamin E is a popular supplement, the media turns negative results into headline news stories, thus leading Americans to believe that they do not need supplemental vitamin E.

Life Extension has analyzed the negative studies about vitamin E and exposed the many flaws in them. The major problem with these studies is that older test subjects (who are in poor health to begin with) are given alpha-tocopherol by itself. It is hard to imagine that alpha-tocopherol in isolation could reverse a lifetime of free-radical tissue damage, yet these are the kinds of studies the media has used to vilify vitamin E.1-9

Largest Study on Vitamin E Overlooked

On November 10, 2006, the largest study in medical history was published using blood levels of alpha-tocopherol as the marker of vitamin E status in male smokers.10 The purpose of this study was to correlate baseline vitamin E levels with specific causes of death and overall mortality over a 19-year period. There were 29,000 subjects initially enrolled and 13,000 deaths available for analysis.

The study results showed a significant reduction in overall mortality in those with the highest blood levels of alpha-tocopherol. When looking at specific diseases, men with the highest blood levels of alpha-tocopherol showed the following reductions in causes of death over the 19-year study period:


Mortality Reduction

Prostate cancer


Ischemic stroke


Hemorrhagic stroke


Lung cancer


Respiratory illness


Despite the enormous size of this study, and the fact that it was published in a major scientific journal, the media all but ignored these remarkable findings.

How Vitamin E Protected These Men Against Disease

When discussing the biological mechanisms by which alpha-tocopherol reduced mortality across this wide spectrum of diseases, the scientists who conducted this study stated:

“As a primary fat-soluble antioxidant that protects lipids from peroxidation, alpha-tocopherol is able to scavenge mutagenic free radicals and inhibit the oxidation of LDL cholesterol, and these abilities have important implications for the prevention of carcinogenesis and atherosclerosis. . . alpha-tocopherol also has several important functions that are independent of its antioxidant activity, including modulation of gene expression, enhancements of immune responses, and suppression of tumor angiogenesis.”10

In describing why the study findings were so positive, the scientists noted that unlike in certain previous studies, test subjects with the higher alpha-tocopherol levels also displayed more beneficial gamma-tocopherol in their blood. The scientists elaborated that when alpha-tocopherol (vitamin E) is taken alone, it can deplete the body of gamma-tocopherol and antagonize the effects of vitamin K.10-15

A large body of published research documents the critical importance of gamma-tocopherol, especially when high doses of alpha-tocopherol are also taken.16-31 Researchers are finally recognizing what Life Extension members learned long ago—that is, the critical importance of following a program that includes both alpha- and gamma-tocopherol, along with vitamin K.

“Gamma-tocopherol is a powerful scavenger of reactive nitrogen oxide species and an inhibitor of the cyclooygenase-2 enzyme.”10

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition - November 10, 2006, page 1206

In their concluding remarks, the scientists who conducted this most recent study stated:

“Our findings support a more robust role for circulating alpha-tocopherol in overall, cancer, and cardiovascular mortality than was suggested by previous studies.” 10

Shocking Deficiencies of Vitamin E

The editorial that accompanied this study revealed that 93% of American men and 96% of American women do not consume the recommended dietary allowance of vitamin E. Based on these startling statistics, the editorial questioned why doctors ever advocated that vitamin E supplements should be avoided!32,33

The editorial went on state the importance of establishing the amount of vitamin E necessary to “reduce the risk of chronic diseases,” rather than the minimal amount needed to “prevent a deficiency symptom.”

By analyzing fine details of the study, the editorial clearly demonstrated that the amount of vitamin E needed to achieve the optimal results shown in this study could be achieved “only with supplements.”

As was so adroitly pointed out by the editors, the federal government says Americans need only 12 milligrams a day of vitamin E, yet even this minute amount is not found in the diets of 93% of men and 96% of women in the United States,32 ergo the need for most Americans to take supplemental vitamin E.

“It is striking that the authors report that the men in the highest quintile of baseline serum concentrations of alpha-tocopherol had significantly lower risks of total and cause-specific mortality, including cardiovascular disease and cancer, than did the men in the lowest quintile of baseline serum concentrations of alpha-tocopherol.” 32

—Editorial - American Journal of Clinical Nutrition - November 10, 2006, page 959

Don’t Be a Victim of Drug Company Propaganda

It is in the economic interests of drug companies to steer Americans away from healthier lifestyles and dietary supplements. As more Americans fall ill to degenerative disease, drug company profits increase exponentially.

Enormous amounts of pharmaceutical dollars are spent influencing Congress, the FDA, and other federal agencies. The result is the promulgation of policies that cause Americans to be deprived of effective, low-cost means of protecting themselves against age-related disease.

The fact that the diets of more than 90% of Americans supply less than the 12 milligrams a day of vitamin E the government proclaims to be adequate is a startling revelation. It documents an epidemic deficiency of vitamin E among Americans who do not take supplements. Despite these grim statistics, the medical establishment continues to question the value of supplemental vitamin E.

As a member of the Life Extension Foundation, you gain access to scientific knowledge that could protect you against a host of common diseases—information that is too often distorted by the government and ignored by the mainstream media.


For longer life,
William Faloon


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