Response from prestigious research centers on the safety of both vitamin C and vitamin E supplements: Robust quantity of research shows that vitamin E and vitamin C supplementation is safe across a broad range of potencies

April 11, 2005

Vitamin E and vitamin C supplementation has been studied intensively and a robust database of research shows that dietary supplements of vitamins E and C are safe for the general population. As safety guidance, tolerable upper intake levels have been established by the Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine, at 1,000mg for vitamin E and 2000mg of vitamin C in adults. Many clinical trials with these vitamins have involved subjects with various diseases, and no consistent pattern of adverse effects has occurred at any level of intake. Numerous studies of vitamin C have provided no pattern of evidence to support concerns about safety other than occasional digestive tract upset or mild diarrhea due to the osmotic effects of unabsorbed vitamin C. Evidence of bleeding effects and other potential adverse effects of high vitamin E intakes in humans is not convincing. Thus we conclude from clinical trial evidence that vitamin E supplements appear safe for most adults in amounts equal to or less than 1600 IU per day (1,073mg of Alpha-Tocopherol or its equivalent in vitamin E isomers) and that vitamin C supplements equal to or less than 2000mg per day are safe for most adults. This major review is published in the April 2005 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the journal of the American Society of Clinical Nutrition.

The following centers collaborated in this research review and safety statement:

Too much omega-6 fatty acids and not enough omega-3 fatty acids lead to thinning of the bone at the hip and spine

Omega-3 fatty acids are known to reduce the risk of some major and common chronic diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, and different cancers. Other research suggests a role in bone health. To investigate this association between omega-3 fatty acids and bone health researchers analyzed the relationship between both omega-6 fatty acids and omega-3 fatty acids and bone mineral density in 1532 men and women living in their community (not institutionalized) between the ages of 45 and 90. Bone mineral density tests and food frequency questionnaires were administered between 1988 and 1992. The poorer the ratio between excessive linolenic acid intake (an omega6 fatty acid) and not enough alpha-linolenic acid intake (an omega-3 fatty acid) the poorer the bone mineral density in the hip of 642 men, 564 women, and 326 women using hormone replacement therapy. These results were independent of age, body mass index, and lifestyle. Additionally, if the women were not on hormone therapy, too much omega-6 and not enough omega-3 was also related to thinning of the spine. The research was conducted by the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, School of Medicine, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla and is published in the April 2005 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.