Relationships between Antioxidants, Vitamin E, Beta Carotene, and Cardiovascular Disease
- 1 The Question of Whether you should be “for” or “against” Antioxidants in the Fight Against Cardiovascular Disease.
- 2 Evidence is Mixed.
- 3 Putting Matters Straight
- 4 Last but not Least
- 5 A New Twist on Antioxidant Foods
- 6 Antioxidant-rich foods that taste good
The Question of Whether you should be “for” or “against” Antioxidants in the Fight Against Cardiovascular Disease.
Foods contain antioxidants in the form of vitamins, minerals, and other chemicals. Antioxidants are thought to aid in disease prevention by neutralising free radicals.
Natural biological functions like breathing, as well as environmental pollutants like cigarette smoke, can generate free radicals. In the absence of antioxidants, free radicals can damage cells throughout the body.
Some of this cellular damage causes oxidation of cholesterol, which is a key known risk factor for the onset of cardiovascular disease.
By adding oxygen to low-density lipoproteins (LDL or “bad” cholesterol), oxidation contributes to the development of fatty plaque on artery walls (atherosclerosis), which can eventually reduce or halt blood flow to the heart.
Evidence is Mixed.
Antioxidants have been studied in relation to cardiovascular disease because of their possible function in preventing LDL oxidation. Numerous investigations have been conducted over the years. Some of the research, however, had questionable outcomes because of how they were conducted.
Some research, for instance, may not have had sufficient numbers of subjects. Some people consumed vitamin E at levels that were later considered unsafe. However, some participants’ treatment time was restricted, and it was unclear if the participants’ improved health was due to the antioxidants or to other factors in their lifestyle.
However, some of the research had strong methodological foundations. However, they reached different conclusions. Antioxidants were helpful for some, according to studies. There were those who didn’t. Others have found that one of the antioxidants, beta carotene, may be harmful.
The media has made a big deal out of reporting on these contradictory studies. To help prevent heart disease, take vitamin E. Alternatively, consumers may be given contradictory advice such as “Take vitamin E” or “Don’t take vitamin E,” leading them to question what they should do to maintain heart health.
Putting Matters Straight
In order to clear up the ambiguity, researchers at the Cleveland Clinic conducted a meta-analysis, a comprehensive study that looked at the largest and best-designed trials including antioxidants.
Researchers can identify subtle benefits or harms that might not have been noticed in a single study by pooling the results of multiple studies into a meta-analysis. Recently, their research was published in the authoritative British medical journal The Lancet. This is what they discovered.
Seven large randomised studies including vitamin E were examined, either alone or in conjunction with other antioxidants, and eight randomised trials involving beta carotene were also analysed. Vitamin E doses varied from 50 IU to 800 IU, whereas beta carotene doses varied from 15 mcg to 50 mcg (mg).
In total, the vitamin E meta-analysis included 81,788 patients, while the beta carotene meta-analysis included 138,113. Deaths from cardiovascular disease and other causes (“all-cause mortality”) were examined for their relationship to the consumption of antioxidant vitamins by the CCF team.
Last but not Least
Vitamin E did not significantly reduce the risk of cardiovascular death or stroke (a “cerebrovascular accident”), and it did not improve survival rates compared to placebo. No matter the vitamin intake or the type of patient population studied, no positive effects were observed. CCF concludes that this study “does not support the routine use of vitamin E.”
Beta carotene was associated with a marginal but statistically significant increase in both total and cardiovascular mortality. As beta carotene has been recommended for general usage, the researchers say their findings are “particularly alarming.” This is because beta carotene is often present in over-the-counter vitamin supplements and multivitamins.
The study concludes that beta carotene vitamin pills should be “actively discouraged” due to the increased risk of death they produce. For the same reason, they advise stopping research on beta carotene supplementation.
Further, the researchers indicated that they do not recommend continuing treatment with vitamin E and that vitamin E should not be included in any future trials of patients with an elevated risk of cardiovascular disease.
These results provide credence to the argument that diet pills can’t take the place of healthy lifestyle choices like eating right, exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy weight, and cutting out harmful vices like smoking.
A New Twist on Antioxidant Foods
Although antioxidant supplementation did not reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, eating foods rich in these compounds is still advised.
Food-based vitamin intake may have additional health benefits over supplementation. Antioxidant-rich foods may contain nutrients like flavonoids and lycopenes that aren’t found in the typical oral vitamin supplement.
A lower risk of cardiovascular disease (affecting the heart and blood vessels) has been related to a diet high in antioxidant-containing foods such fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
Antioxidant-rich foods that taste good
A few places you can get your vitamin E:
Whole grains, seeds, nuts, papaya, and legumes rank highest.
Whole grains, legumes, sweet potatoes, watercress, wheat germ, and brown rice are all beneficial.
Beta carotene’s dietary sources
Vegetables and fruits with deep colours, including oranges, reds, and greens, are ideal.
Eating between five and ten servings of fruit and vegetables per day is recommended by national and international dietary guidelines for achieving an appropriate intake of disease-fighting antioxidant elements.
Supplementing with vitamins may help, but reducing other risk factors for heart disease is more effective in the long run. Among the most effective techniques are:
- Put an end to your use of tobacco products.
- You should have your lipid profile checked by a doctor.
- Strive for LDL less than 100 (those at high risk should aim for less than 70) and HDL greater than 45 through medication if necessary.
- Eat meals that are high in fibre and minerals while being low in saturated fat and cholesterol (including antioxidants)
- Take part in frequent physical activity.
- Manage your blood sugar and blood pressure.
- Get to a healthy weight and stay there.
- You should have your doctor check your blood for high-sensitivity c-reactive protein, which is a general marker of arterial inflammation and a sign of heart disease.
- Make sure you visit the doctor regularly.
- Inquire with your physician about taking aspirin (between 80 and 160 mg once a day)