The Physicians Health Study II has reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association the effect of taking Vitamin C and E as supplements to prevent CVD after an eight year follow up using a RCT trial design. It won’t be a surprise to many physicians to find out that it had absolutely no effect on these outcome measures and on the other hand it did throw up a concerning result. The concerning result was the increased incidence of haemorrhagic strokes for those taking Vitamin E. Though total mortality outcomes are equivalent in Vitamin C or E v placebo groups there was hazard ratio of 1.74 for haemorrhagic stroke for Vitamin E v placebo with a p value of 0.04 (significant).

I don’t recommend vitamin C or E for my patients for the purpose of primary prevention and / or general purpose well being – and would put patients off taking Vitamin E in particular without any compelling reason.

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