Vitamin E and Insulin Levels in the Overweight.




Diabetes Care

Related Monographs

Consumer Data: Vitamin E Obesity, Weight Loss
Professional Data: Vitamin E Obesity, Weight Loss


Because vitamin E is destroyed by heat and oxidation during cooking or food processing, eating processed foods and/or fast foods can contribute to a vitamin E deficiency. Meanwhile, good sources of vitamin E include vegetable oils, wheat germ oil, seeds, nuts and soybeans. Other adequate sources are leafy greens, Brussels sprouts, whole-wheat products, whole grain breads and cereals, avocados, spinach and asparagus.

Although it was discovered and isolated in the 1930s, vitamin E's function in the body has come to light relatively recently. Vitamin E is an extremely important fat-soluble antioxidant. It insures the stability and integrity of cellular tissues and membranes throughout the body by preventing free radical damage.

A recent study published in the journal Diabetes Care studied the effects of vitamin E on the insulin levels in overweight subjects. Studies have shown that vitamin E improves glycemic control in those with diabetes. The authors wanted to see if high doses of vitamin E would improve insulin levels or possibly decrease oxidative stress in overweight individuals. Eighty participants with a BMI (Body Mass Index) over 27 were recruited and received either 800 IU of vitamin E daily or a placebo for three months. For the following three months, the dose of vitamin E was increased to 1200 IU daily. The results showed that oxidative stress markers decreased in the vitamin E group. These markers decreased by 27% with the 800 IU dosage and 29% with the 1200 IU dosage. In addition, plasma alanine transferase (a chemical that is increased in those with insulin resistance) decreased in the vitamin E group. The authors concluded that, “these findings indicate that vitamin E improves oxidative stress and hepatocellular function. Although insulin resistance also improves, this effect appears transient.”1


1. Manning PJ, et al. Effect of High-Dose Vitamin E on Insulin Resistance and Associated Parameters in Overweight Subjects. Diabetes Care. Sept 2004;27:2166-71.