Heart disease and single-vitamin supplementation

Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 Jan;85(1):293S-299S. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/85.1.293S.


Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States and has long been recognized to be multifactorial. A growing body of evidence suggests that not only free radical-mediated reactions but also inflammatory responses play major roles in atherogenesis. Vitamin E has both antioxidant and antiinflammatory properties and is the most widely studied vitamin in clinical trials and thus will be the primary example used in this review. Clinical trials of vitamin E efficacy, in hindsight, have been overly optimistic in their expectation that a vitamin could reverse poor dietary habits and a sedentary lifestyle as well as provide benefit beyond that of pharmaceutical agents in treating heart disease. However, it is also apparent that most Americans do not consume dietary amounts adequate to meet established vitamin E requirements. In response to oxidative stressors, vitamin E can decrease biomarkers of lipid peroxidation, is itself killed, and requires optimal vitamin C status to function most effectively. Thus, adequate vitamin E intakes are clearly needed, but what is adequate for what function has yet to be defined. It is noteworthy that in most trials, biomarkers were not used nor were oxidative stress and lipid peroxidation markers used or plasma vitamin E concentrations measured.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antioxidants / metabolism
  • Antioxidants / therapeutic use*
  • Ascorbic Acid / metabolism
  • Ascorbic Acid / therapeutic use
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Cholesterol / blood
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Heart Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Lipid Peroxidation
  • Nutritional Requirements*
  • Oxidative Stress*
  • Vitamin E / metabolism
  • Vitamin E / therapeutic use*


  • Antioxidants
  • Biomarkers
  • Vitamin E
  • Cholesterol
  • Ascorbic Acid