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Review finds high intakes of vitamins E and C are safe

WASHINGTON, DC. Many studies suggest that the antioxidants vitamins E and C can help promote overall good health. Dietary supplementation with these vitamins is widespread in the Western world, with many individuals taking more than the recommended dietary allowances. Much of the scientific literature on these vitamins has recently been reviewed by the Council for Responsible Nutrition, a group of researchers from England, Germany, Switzerland and the United States. The scientists analysed 95 references, including clinical trials and epidemiological studies in humans.

They found that the supplements are safe for adults at intakes up to 1600 IU daily for vitamin E (equivalent to 1073 mg of natural vitamin E) and up to 2000 mg daily for vitamin C. No consistent evidence of adverse effects was found at these intakes among healthy participants or those with a range of diseases. The review found that trials have consistently shown no adverse effects of high vitamin E intakes including no evidence of bleeding effects. The recent, controversial meta-analysis on vitamin E from Johns Hopkins University was reviewed, and mortality was found to be increased only in diabetics and heart disease patients consuming over 2000 IU a day. Similarly, a number of vitamin C supplementation studies have not found any grounds for concern over safety apart from occasional gastrointestinal upset. The safe upper intake levels set by the Food and Nutrition Board of the US Institute of Medicine stand at 1000 mg for vitamin E (any form) and 2000 mg for vitamin C. These figures are supported by the consensus of published studies, concludes the review. The authors believe that the review constitutes reassuring evidence for consumers and doctors that vitamins E and C, taken at the most commonly available doses, do not cause adverse side effects or create other safety issues.
Hathcock, J N et al. Vitamins E and C are safe across a broad range of intakes. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 81, April 2005, pp. 736-745

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