There are two sides to every coin, the saying goes. Surprisingly, this also rings true when it comes to scientific studies. I’ll explain.
More often than not, when a study about a natural supplement with an unexpected outcome is published, there's a frenzy of news articles and broadcast media touting the dangers of the product in question.
But here’s the problem. The articles that end up in most mainstream media reports tend to take bits and pieces of studies, giving incomplete data and basing conclusions on erroneous or limited information… in other words, they’re looking at only one side of the coin.
Why am I talking about this today? Because in the past week or so, quite a few community members have asked me whether Vitamin E is “bad for bones.” This due to a recent study that links Vitamin E supplements to poor bone mass.
The Study vs. the Media Reports
The article published on BBC News trumpeted “Vitamin E May Be Bad for Bones,” saying:
Writing in the journal Nature Medicine, the Keio University team said mice given large doses had lower bone mass – if the same was true in humans, fracture risk would be increased.
Vitamin E is found in oils, green vegetables such as spinach and broccoli and in almonds and hazelnuts.
But a UK expert said supplements could be problematic.1
Could vitamin E, a potent natural antioxidant – and much more – really hurt bones? Not so fast. First, let’s look at the BBC’s article a little more closely:
There’s no mention of the type of Vitamin E used in the study.
Vitamin E comes in both natural and synthetic forms, and there are eight different types of natural Vitamin E: alpha-, beta-, gamma-, and delta-tocopherol and alpha-, beta-, gamma-, and delta-tocotrienol). The synthetic form of Vitamin E is tocopheryl acetate. In the BBC article, this is a complete mystery.
The article states that mice given “large doses” had lower bone mass.
The obvious question here is… exactly what is a “large dose”?
So the reader is basically led to believe that all Vitamin E supplements in any dose – enough to be large – “could be problematic”, per the unnamed UK “expert’s” statement.
The research study was published in the Nature Medicine journal on March 4, 2012, and was conducted by a group of scientists at Keio University in Japan.2 A group of mice were given doses of alpha-tocopherol equivalent to what a person would take. The study resulted in loss of bone mass.
Additionally, the observation in another group of mice who were genetically modified to have a chronic alpha tocopherol deficiency, was that this form of Vitamin E,
“… stimulated osteoclast fusion, independent of its antioxidant capacity, by inducing the expression of dendritic-cell–specific transmembrane protein, an essential molecule for osteoclast fusion…” 2
To understand the above quote, we must first…
Put On Our Detective’s Hat
As I write in the Osteoporosis Reversal Program, osteoclasts are bone cells that remove old bone to make room for new bone deposition. Without the action of osteoclasts, also known as resorption, bone doesn’t renew itself, so it eventually gets old and fragile.
Most osteoporosis drugs, including the popular bisphosphonates, alter resorption, thus offering a short window of opportunity for bone to remain denser – but not renewed and resilient to fractures.
Osteoclasts are formed when two types of cells fuse together, thus the researchers write “stimulated osteoclast fusion.” So in the above quote, the scientists are clearly saying that vitamin E facilitated osteoclast formation, yet they consider this a problem.
Isn’t this exactly what we should be looking for in order to prevent fractures? The presence of a good number of osteoclasts coupled with proper nutrition and plenty of weight-bearing activity can ensure that bone gets renewed, thus becoming more resistant to fractures. (For a lighthearted explanation of bone remodeling, read this.)
So while Vitamin E is not one of the Foundation Supplements, if you are currently taking it, go ahead and continue without worries.
The Bottom Line
Now you know why reading between the lines can really make a difference. Thankfully, as a Save Our Bones community member, you are ahead of the curve. And I promise you that I will continue to play “detective”, so we can all stay on track.
Take Care of Your Bones
With all the confusing information about bone health, isn’t it nice to know that there’s one program you can follow that’s 100% natural AND doctor approved?
Indeed, the late Dr. Robert Salter – a world-renowned orthopedic surgeon, author, and scientist – recommended the Osteoporosis Reversal Program “as essential reading for all persons involved with preventing and treating osteoporosis.”
If you haven't already, I would love for you to join the thousands from all around the world who are naturally building their bone density with the Osteoporosis Reversal Program. That’s why I’ve made it as easy and risk-free as possible for you to get this program and prove to yourself that it will improve your bones and your life.
Stop worrying about your bone health and get started today.
To your bone health!
2 “Vitamin E decreases bone mass by stimulating osteoclast fusion.” http://www.nature.com/nm/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nm.2659.html