Vitamin Industry defendsE Usage; Disputes Link to Early Death
Byline: Tom Ramstack, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
The vitamin industry is trying to control the damage to its sales of vitamin E after research reported last month linked the supplement to early death.
People who take daily doses of 400 international units or higher are about 10 percent more likely to die prematurely than people who take smaller doses or no vitamin E supplements, researchers from Johns Hopkins University reported Nov. 10 at an American Heart Association conference in New Orleans.
About a quarter of the U.S. population takes vitamin E supplements, according to industry estimates.
This week, the Council for Responsible Nutrition, a dietary supplement trade association, ran ads in major newspapers to counter the study's findings.
"Numerous clinical studies support vitamin E's role in cardiovascular health, immune function and antioxidant protection," the ads said.
They also said the study that found health risks from vitamin E was flawed because it looked primarily at an elderly population with pre-existing health problems.
Nevertheless, vitamin retailers have said their vitamin E business is damaged.
"The study has had a negative impact on vitamin E sales across the industry, which we believe is very unfortunate given the multiple potential benefits of vitamin E," said Patrick Fitzgerald, spokesman for General Nutrition Centers, a national retailer of nutritional supplements.
He mentioned reduced risk of cancer and age-related vision loss as examples.
"It's just not scientifically valid, but it's certainly going to hurt sales," Harvey Kamil, president of nutritional supplement company NBTY Inc. said about the Johns Hopkins study.
Customers at vitamin stores in the Washington area have been expressing concern about the supplement, according to sales personnel.
A clerk at a Vitamin Shoppe store in Gaithersburg, who asked that her name be withheld, said sales of vitamin E were "not very good because of the report that came out."
Jason Kam, vice president of business development for Purity Products, a nutritional supplement maker, said the Johns Hopkins study alone was not enough to override previous research that showed benefits from vitamin E. …