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Perspective on Vitamin E as Therapy

Hyman J. Roberts, MD
JAMA. 1981;246(2):129-131. doi:10.1001/jama.1981.03320020021015.
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IN A recent editorial on vitamin E therapy, Oski1 stated: "Fortunately, large doses of this vitamin appear to be tolerated with relative impunity." The purported safety of vitamin E also is repeatedly underscored by physicians in popular health-oriented publications. Wright asserted: "There's never been a case reported of vitamin E toxicity. None of my patients have ever had any problems" (Prevention, February 1978, p 74).

This widely held attitude deserves scrutiny because it could pose a major public health concern. I continue to encounter patients with problems that seem to have been caused or aggravated by self-medication with vitamin E (used here to designate the various tocopherols) in high dosages.2-4 The more serious ones include the following: (1) thrombophlebitis, pulmonary embolism, or both (my series now exceeds 80 such patients, averaging 62 years of age; four had recurrences on resuming vitamin E treatment); (2) hypertension (22 patients), generally


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