Australian researchers challenge landmark meta-analysis of Vitamin E

29 August 2017

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Australian researchers at Southern Cross University (SCU) have conducted a study1 that challenges previous research that found an increased mortality in people who took oral Vitamin E supplements.

SCU School of Health and Human Sciences researchers Christopher Oliver and Stephen Myers questioned the validity of a Cochrane systematic review and meta-analysis for determining the safety of Vitamin E,2 published in 2008 and revised in 2012. By the end of 2016, the Cochrane review had been cited in scientific papers 1700 times and had received considerable media attention.

The authors of the new study have come to different conclusions from those in the original study, concluding that several methodological issues in the meta-analysis of Vitamin E safety in the 2012 Cochrane Review negate the original findings.

"Scientific enquiry should be encouraged," ASMI Regulatory and Legal Director Steve Scarff said.

"The authors have put forward an interesting re-examination of the previous study. It is always good to go back and examine key studies, and this should be a part of the process for expanding the evidence base for all medicines," Mr Scarff said.

"This study opens the door for further dialogue on the use of Vitamin E supplementation, and more examination is warranted.

"Given the widespread coverage of and reference to the original Cochrane review, ASMI anticipates a similar level of discussion and examination of this new research."

Vitamin E is an essential nutrient that is required for proper functioning of the human body. ASMI has previously concluded that Vitamin E is safe when used in accordance with Australian intake recommendations (7-10 mg per day for adults).3

As with all medicines, it is important that consumers follow the label instructions and consult with a healthcare professional if they have any concerns. 



  1. Oliver, Christopher & Myers, Stephen. (2017). Validity of a Cochrane Systematic Review and meta-analysis for determining the safety of vitamin E. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 17. 408. 10.1186/s12906-017-1906-x.

  2. Bjelakovic G, Nikolova D, Gluud LL, Simonetti RG, Gluud C. Antioxidant supplements for prevention of mortality in healthy participants and patients with various diseases. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2012, Issue 3. Art. No.: CD007176. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD007176.pub2

  3. Australian Government Dept. of Health and Aging. 2006. Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand including Recommended Dietary Intakes.