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|Sarah McGowan-Freije, NatureCity author & contributor|
Vitamin E consumption over a period of many years may be associated with a decreased risk in developing amyothrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), according to a meta-analysis conducted by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health.
The findings were published on March 15, 2011 in the American Journal of Epidemiology.
The researchers examined five different studies that included 1,055,546 participants in total: the Nurses’ Health Study (1976–2004), the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (1986–2004), the Cancer Prevention Study II Nutrition Cohort (1992–2004), the Multiethnic Cohort Study (1993–2005), and the National Institutes of Health-AARP Diet and Health Study (1995–2005).
Out of that population, 805 individuals developed ALS. The risk reduction benefit of vitamin E consumption was directly associated with duration of use. ALS rates were found to decline as the number of years of vitamin E use increased. Those who consumed vitamin E supplements the longest were the least likely to develop ALS.
These findings are consistent with a case-control study conducted in the Netherlands that found that participants in the highest group of vitamin E intake were 50% less likely to develop ALS than those in the lowest group.
Previous research has suggested that ALS is associated with oxidative stress and mutations in the copper/zinc superoxide dismutase gene (SOD1), a gene that helps with antioxidant defense. The antioxidant effects of vitamin E have been shown in previous studies to correct oxidative stress, which could be why it lowers ALS risk.
Vitamin E has been associated with multiple health benefits, including lower cholesterol, healthier skin, and maintaining a proper hormonal balance. However, most Americans do not get the recommended 15 mg a day.
To boost your vitamin E intake, consider adding more sunflower seeds, breakfast cereal, tomatoes, dried herbs, and dried apricots to your diet. High quality supplements are also a good source of this essential vitamin.
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