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High-Dose Vitamin E Supplementation Normalizes Retinal Blood Flow and Creatinine Clearance in Patients with Type 1 Diabetes

A study published in the August 1999 issue of Diabetes Care reports that large daily doses of vitamin E appear to normalize abnormal retinal blood flow in patients with Type 1 diabetes. In the 8-month double-masked, placebo-controlled crossover study of 36 people with Type 1, and 9 people without diabetes, participants took 1,800 IU of vitamin E per day for four months, then crossed over to the other arm of the study. Participants with diabetes ranged in age from 18 to 45 years and all had diabetes less than 10 years with no or minimal diabetic retinopathy.

Prior to treatment, the participants with diabetes had significantly reduced retinal blood flow. After treatment, retinal blood flow for participants with diabetes was essentially comparable to the participants without diabetes. Retinal blood flow improved despite unchanged glycemic control. The researchers conclude that, with high-dose vitamin E therapy, "the physiological normalization in the early stages of diabetes could ameliorate the risk for development of retinal or renal complications."

While the results of this study are very encouraging, the authors caution that until further research confirms the results, "the results of the current study should not be misconstrued as an indication for the widespread use of vitamin E for the treatment of diabetic retinopathy."

An accompanying editoral ("Should High-Dose Vitamin E Supplementation Be Recommended to Diabetic Patients?") includes several points worth noting. First, it notes that there is no data that shows that high doses of vitamin E are toxic, even at rates of 3,200 IU/day for nine weeks. Second, it states that there is no data either for or against vitamin E supplementation at the rates suggested in the study. Finally, the editorial concludes by stating that the recommendation for widespread use of high-dose vitamin E for all diabetic patients is premature.

Diabetes Care 22:1245-1251, 1999

Posted July 25, 1999

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Last Updated: Thursday February 27, 2014 19:28:21
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