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Is Vitamin E really a way to prevent pneumonia?

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Vitamin E and pneumonia

Results of a newer study suggests an antioxidant supplement that might help prevent pneumonia in older adults who are non-smoking. Could taking Vitamin E prevent pneumonia? Should you skip your flu and pneumonia shots?


But before you start taking vitamin E in hopes of thwarting pneumonia, or skipping your pneumonia shot, there are some things you should know.

Researchers from University of Helsinki say the finding means more studies should be done to see what effect vitamin E has on preventing community acquired pneumonia.

The study

For their study researchers analyzed records of older men who had smoked at age 21 or older.

The analysis showed men who started smoking later in life and who took vitamin E had a sixty-nine percent lower chance of pneumonia.

But the study authors say more research is needed to know for certain if the men's history of smoking at a later age or the fact that they stopped smoking influenced the results of the analysis.

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Vitamin E benefits, risks

As highlighted in a recent EmaxHealth article, vitamin E is a known way to boost immunity.

The vitamin is also a powerful antioxidant suggested for use for a variety of health conditions, but there are no conclusive studies that it can prevent cancer, pneumonia, Alzheimer's disease or other health conditions.

Supplements can help people who are vitamin E deficient, but most of us get enough from eating foods such as green vegetables, nuts, eggs and fortified cereals.

Vitamin Ecan also interfere with blood-thinning medications. A 2010 study published in the British Medical Journal highlights the possibility that vitamin E could substantially raise the chance of hemorrhagic stroke. The researchers urge caution about taking supplements, given the finding.

When it comes to taking supplements, versus whole foods, you are better off relying on a healthy lifestyle and healthy eating habits. You should also take your pneumonia vaccine, especially if you are over age 65.

Can vitamin E supplements prevent pneumonia? Maybe, but until we know more you're better off buying food instead of wasting money on supplements that many researchers consider useless and potentially harmful.

NCBI: Vitamin E and Immunity
CDC: Pneumonia vaccine
FDA.gov: "Dietary Supplements: What you need to know"