The Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology published an article on October 9 that reveals an association between higher vitamin E intake and a lower risk of hypertension (high blood pressure).

According to the study’s authors Akiko Kuwabara of Osaka Shoin Women’s University and colleagues oxidative damage and free radical production in the endothelium (cells lining blood vessels) are closely involved in the development of  the atherosclerotic process which leads to cardiovascular diseases.  explain authors.  They noted, “Since vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin with potent antioxidative activity and one of its main physiological roles is considered to be the inhibition of unsaturated fatty acid oxidation, vitamin E is a promising candidate against oxidative stress-induced unfavorable consequences.”

The researchers evaluated data from 1,405 men and 2,102 women aged 40 and older who participated in Japan’s National Health and Nutrition Survey 2007. Their dietary records were analyzed for the intake of vitamin E and other nutrients. The presence of hypertension was defined as systolic blood pressure of 140 mmHg or higher, diastolic blood pressure of 90 mmHg or higher, or use of an antihypertensive drug.

Among participants whose vitamin E intake was among the top one-third of subjects, there was a 27% lower risk of hypertension, and for those among the middle third, the risk was 19% lower. Adjustment for increased intake of other blood-pressure-lowering nutrients failed to significantly affect the results.

In their discussion of the findings, Dr Kuwabara and colleagues remark that studies involving spontaneously hypertensive rats have uncovered enhanced reactive oxygen production, leading to nitric oxide inactivation  (a chemical that relaxes blood vessels) and impaired inhibition of epinephrine-induced vasoconstriction (epinephrine is a major hormone involved in the stress response). Vitamin E, being an antioxidant, decreases the formation of free radicals, thereby helping to reduce this process.

In addition to commonly recognized behavioral risk factors for noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), the authors suggest that antioxidative vitamins be considered for NCD prevention.