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SYNTHETIC VS. NATURAL

Synthetic vitamin E works as well as natural vitamin E in preventing heart disease, according to a clinical trial at University of Texas' Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.

Animal tests have indicated that natural alpha tocopherol -- the most active form of vitamin E -- is more potent than the synthetic version of the vitamin. A dose-response comparison of natural and synthetic vitamin E at equivalent doses in humans found no significant difference in the amount of vitamin E present in plasma or low-density lipoproteins (LDL). Also, there was no difference in their abilities to inhibit the oxidation of LDL, the so-called "bad" cholesterol. LDL oxidation is believed to be the first step in development of atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries.

A study from the University of Cambridge, England, showed that vitamin E at doses of 400 and 800 international units (IUs) a day reduced heart attacks by 77 percent in patients with heart disease.

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