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Vitamin Shields Brittle Bones

Osteoporosis, wherein the density of the bone is lost and becomes brittle, is one of the dreaded complications in women after they attain their menopause. This happens as a result of decreased levels of estrogen, which is responsible for maintaining the bone density.

Dr. Sunil J. Wimalawansa, of the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, has shown her study using the animal model that Vitamin E may prevent bone loss after menopause as effectively as estrogen.

In this study it is shown that female rats that had their ovaries removed and treated with vitamin E had much higher bone densities after eight weeks than the rats that received no treatment. Vitamin E is an antioxidant, meaning it soaks up so-called free radicals or substances that can damage tissue, including bone. The dose of vitamin E given to the rats was equivalent to what a human would take as a dietary supplement, about 400 international units or IU daily. Combining estrogen and vitamin E did not appear to offer any additional benefits, Wimalawansa reported.

Appropriate doses of vitamin E, at least in rats, appears to reduce menopausal risk of developing osteoporosis," Wimalawansa said. "If this applies to humans, it could be a very exciting and cost-effective treatment for the future."

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