Australian researchers in Melbourne have learned that taking vitamin E supplements can improve blood flow in patients with type 1 diabetes (the form of diabetes caused by a lack of insulin, the hormone responsible for regulating blood sugar).
Previous studies have shown that diabetics have impaired functioning of the endothelium, a thin layer of cells that line blood vessels and control the flow of blood by relaxing and contracting the vessel.
The researchers gave 41 patients 1,000 international units (IU) of the vitamin or a placebo (inactive pill), for three months. Antioxidants such as vitamin E can mop up free radicals, which are cell-damaging particles that are a byproduct of normal metabolism. Using ultrasound, the researchers then measured blood flow in the patients.
They found that those who took vitamin E had an improvement in blood flow compared to those who took a placebo. The researchers believe that vitamin E can reduce the oxidation of LDL, or "bad" cholesterol, a step that may ease blood flow difficulties in people with type 1 diabetes. The results suggest that free radicals contribute to abnormal vascular function in diabetes and that vitamin E can improve blood flow in these patients in a relatively short period of time.
Important Note: Study findings reported later suggest that people with diabetes should avoid taking vitamin E supplements. Click here to learn more. (Leslie Beck, 2007)
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