According to a new study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition it was observed that vitamin E may play an important role in preventing the build up of plaque in the arteries that can lead to cardiovascular disease.
Research has shown antioxidant vitamins can protect against the formation of plaque in the arteries. However, most studies have concentrated on people who were already diagnosed with heart disease or who had suffered a heart attack. Researchers from Naples followed a group of about 350 women with an average age of 50 who had no evidence of heart disease at the beginning of the study. None of the women were taking vitamin supplements containing the antioxidants A, C, or E.
Women completed food frequency questionnaires and also had their blood tested for vitamin levels. Ultrasound exams were conducted to determine plaque levels in key arteries, and results showed 60 percent had some evidence of plaque build up. The remaining 30 percent showed no evidence of plaque.
The ultrasound results were then compared with the food frequency questionnaires and the blood tests. Researchers found women who reported rarely eating foods high in vitamin E, and who had the lowest blood concentrations of the vitamin, were more than twice as likely to have signs of plaque in their arteries than those who reported eating more vitamin E filled foods and had the highest blood levels of the vitamin.Foods rich in vitamin E include legumes, vegetables, and olive oil.
Since only women with the lowest intake of vitamin E seemed to be adversely affected, investigators suggest doctors should assess vitamin E intake and blood levels before recommending a change in diet or vitamin E supplements for their patients.