Vitamin E for Cervical Dysplasia

A discussion of dietary antioxidants cannot exclude vitamin E. Chances are you’ve already heard about this heart-healthy nutrient (read chapter 11 for all the facts on vitamin E and heart disease). As with vitamin C, less research has been done in the area of vitamin E and cervical dysplasia. Nevertheless, observational studies have found a link between the risk of dysplasia and blood levels of the vitamin. For instance, one study from the Cancer Research Center of Hawaii revealed that women with the highest blood vitamin E levels had a 70 percent lower risk of cervical dysplasia than those with the lowest blood levels.7 The researchers also noticed what’s called a dose-response effect. That means the higher the level of vitamin E, the lower the risk of dysplasia.

Like the antioxidants discussed above, vitamin E is a potent scavenger of harmful free radical molecules and may keep cervical cells healthy in this way. Until we learn more about the role of vitamin E in cervical health, strive to meet your daily targets—see the RDA table on page 15 in chapter 1.

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Vitamin E Food Sources and Supplements Wheat germ, nuts, seeds, soybeans, vegetable oils, corn oil, whole grains and kale are all good sources of vitamin E, so be sure to include a few of these in your daily diet. But it can be a challenge to reach the daily recommended intake of 22 IU (international units), when you consider that adding 2 tablespoons of wheat germ to your morning smoothie gives you only 4 IU of the vitamin—and wheat germ is one of the best sources. For this reason, many women opt for a daily supplement to help them meet their target intakes. To help you choose the right vitamin E supplement, consider the following suggestions:

• Start taking 100 to 400 IU per day. There’s no evidence to warrant taking more.

• Buy a natural source vitamin E supplement (or look for d-alpha-tocopherol on the label; synthetic forms are labeled dl-alpha tocopherol). Although the body absorbs both synthetic and natural forms equally well, your liver prefers the natural form, as it incorporates more natural vitamin E into transport mole- cules. Studies have shown that twice as much vitamin E ends up in the blood of people taking natural E as in those taking the same amount of synthetic E.

• Consider choosing a vitamin E supplement that is labeled “mixed tocopherols.” Preliminary research shows that one form of vitamin E called gamma-tocopherol has potent anti-inflammatory effects in addition to its antioxidant properties. This may play a role in cancer prevention.

• If you’re taking a blood-thinning medication like Coumadin® (warfarin), don’t take vitamin E without your doctor’s approval, since it has slight anticlotting properties.

• The daily upper limit for vitamin E is 1500 IU of natural vitamin E or 2200 IU of the synthetic form.

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