The Vitamin E Story for cardiovascular and renal diseases

The Vitamin E Story

The first course I ever taught was entitled "Forgotten Research in Medicine." That was in 1976. Even by that time, there had been a strikingly large number of impeccably qualified researchers and physicians who had left drug-and-cut medicine behind in favor of a naturopathic approach. I had seen so much well-documented evidence for the safety and effectiveness of therapeutic nutrition against major chronic diseases that I figured it must presently be self evident to everybody. Surely, I thought, it could only be a matter of time (say twenty years at most) until all doctors shifted to natural healing, because word would spread like wildfire and all their patients would demand it of them.

I’d read a variety of articles documenting an incredibly bitter controversy which raged throughout the 1950’s over the use of vitamin E (d-alpha tocopherol) for cardiovascular disease. Drs. Wilfrid and Evan Shute were at the center of this storm, which encircled their work in Ontario, Canada. They were among the very first medical doctors to clinically employ large doses of the vitamin in place of conventional drug therapy. Like many pioneers, they caught all the arrows. Almost all of the positive articles I saw were based on case histories and came from the popular press. Almost all of the criticism seemed to come from the medical press, which seemed singularly resistant to even try the Shute’s approach, let alone endorse it. Yet, somehow, their unwillingness to test the Shute’s high-dose, natural vitamin E protocol did not seem to prevent them from dismissing it.

In the early 50’s, Canada was a hotbed of leading-edge nutritional research. Maybe there is something in the water up there. In Saskatchewan at about the same time, Dr. Abram Hoffer and Dr. Humphrey Osmond found that niacin was the best way to treat psychosis. The Shutes found that vitamin E was the best way to treat heart disease. One might think that the only possible professional response to such important discoveries would be grateful acceptance and widespread journal publication.

Just the opposite occurred.

For decades it has been said that pharmaceutical medicine has little to gain from a cheap vitamin cure that cannot be patented and exploited for high profit. Observers have also witnessed what happens to medical doctors that have defected to drugless healing: they gain many grateful patients, and lose a lot of research funding. Few pharmaceutical companies willingly contribute to the competition.

The Shutes saw early that such would be the case, and paid their own way. They created their own research foundation and treatment facility (The Shute Institute), created their own journal (The Summary), and in so doing, some would say, created their own trouble.

The Vitamin E Story is Dr. Evan Shute’s first-hand, ring-side account of the discovery that high-dose d-alpha tocopherol cures serious disease. It is also an unusually interesting autobiography of an unusually interesting man. Evan Shute, an obstetrician by training, was a poet by inclination. He once delivered 25 babies in 17 days, yet he also wrote children’s stories and published ten volumes of verse. Dr. Shute’s professional character is perhaps best illustrated by his repeated efforts to credit medical student Floyd Skelton with major contributions to the development of vitamin E cardiovascular therapy. The Shute’s personal integrity is demonstrated by their maintaining a non-commercial stance and never profiting from the sale of the vitamin. Oddly enough, in 1948 they actually advocated making vitamin E a prescription item.

Perhaps this is understandable, given the spectacular, wonder-drug-style patient recoveries that the Shutes had already seen by mid-century.


1936: Vitamin E-rich wheat germ oil cures angina.

1940: Vitamin E suspected as preventive of fibroids and endometriosis, and curative of atherosclerosis.

1945: Vitamin E shown to cure hemorrhages in skin and mucous membranes, and to decrease the diabetic’s need for insulin.

1946: Vitamin E greatly improves wound healing, including skin ulcers. Also demonstrated effective in cases of claudication, acute nephritis, thrombosis, cirrhosis and phlebitis. Vitamin E strengthens and regulates heartbeat.

1947: Vitamin E successfully used as therapy for gangrene, inflammation of blood vessels (Buerger’s disease), retinitis and choroiditis.

1948: Vitamin E helps lupus erythematosus and shortness of breath.

1950: Vitamin E shown to be effective treatment for varicose veins, and in cases of severe body burns.

1954: The Shutes’ medical textbook, Alpha Tocopherol in Cardiovascular Disease, is published.

1956: The Heart and Vitamin E is published.

It is not overly easy to see how such promise could be ignored for long. But it was. Dr. Shute’s frustration with an unnaturally stubborn medical profession comes starkly through his text.

"It was nearly impossible now for anyone who valued his future in Academe to espouse Vitamin E, prescribe it or advise its use. That would make a man a "quack" at once. This situation lasted for many years. In the United States, of course, the closure of the J.A.M.A. pages against us and tocopherol meant that it did not exist. It was either in the U.S. medical bible or it was nought. No amount of documentation could budge medical men from this stance. Literature in the positive was ignored and left unread. Individual doctors often said: "If it is as good as you say, we would all be using it." But nothing could induce them as persons of scientific background to make the simplest trial on a burn or coronary." (p 146)

The American Medical Association even refused to let the Shute’s present their findings at national medical conventions. (p 148-9) In the early 1960’s, the United States Post Office successfully prevented even the mailing of vitamin E. (p 166)

Linus Pauling wrote, in the book’s 1985 forward:

"The failure of the medical establishment during the last forty years to recognize the value of Vitamin E in controlling heart disease is responsible for a tremendous amount of unnecessary suffering and for many early deaths. The interesting story of the efforts to suppress the Shute discoveries about Vitamin E illustrates the shocking bias of organized medicine against nutritional measures for achieving improved health." (vii)

O that things were truly better today, but they are not. Yes, the American public can and does buy vitamin E (even by mail) without a prescription. Still, I am unaware of any burn clinic using topical vitamin E as their primary treatment. I am yet to see "megadose vitamin E cures cardiovascular disease" commercials on TV. I have never seen a bottle of vitamin E in an intensive care unit. It has now been nearly 60 years since vitamin E was seen to greatly help diabetics and cardiovascular patients and only very recently has medical research "discovered" a glimmer of the value of this vitamin. For half a century, vitamin E has been an available specific for intermittent claudication, angina, prevention of and recovery from heart attack, thrombophlebitis, and a wide variety of other serious conditions.

Aye, there’s the rub.

Vitamin E is entirely too good for too many purposes. Consumer Reports trashed it in back in 1972, and often since. It didn’t help matters that Evan Shute was "only" an obstetrician. (This obstetrician was, however, made a Fellow of the American Society of Angiology in 1969.) And today, vitamin E’s very availability, and exceptional safety, seemingly render it unattractive for hospital use as the spectacular therapy that it is.

The Vitamin E Story surprised me with Chapter 12, a collection of rather funny real-life obstetrical experiences that Dr. Shute evidently just had to put down on paper. I’m glad he did, as the stories are both delightful and bizarre. There is the account of proof of ovulation in a 102 year old woman. There is the case of "cranial nerve neuralgia cured for two years by a hemorrhoidectomy. This shows the suggestive power of the knife." Then there is the surgeon who smoked during operations, the cigarette ash getting into the wound. And let’s not overlook the marriage ceremony performed during labor. "Uterine contractions imposed an odd punctuation to the responses, but the minister did most of the talking, fortunately."

But this book is mostly the story of the Evan Shute who published over 120 medical papers; the doctor who was opposed to circumcision; the doctor who treated tens of thousands of patients with large amounts of vitamin E.

Tocopherol has been known and studied since the 1920’s, generally in small quantities as a means to ensure a full-term pregnancy. Without the Shute brothers’ high-dosage clinical work, especially in cardiology, no one at all would be megadosing with vitamin E today. We owe them our thanks, and our lives.

The Vitamin E Story, by Evan Shute, M.D. James C. M. Shute, editor. Forward by Linus Pauling. (Burlington, Ontario: Welch Publishing, 1985. 219 pages, softcover.) ISBN 0-920413-04-8 This book may be out of print. You might try an internet bookseller search, or wish to contact the Shute Institute,

367 Princess Ave., London, Ontario, Canada N6B 2A7

. Email: .

(This book review appeared in the Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine, Vol. 17, No. 3, Third Quarter, 2002, pages 179-181. It is reprinted with permission.)

A bibliography of the Shutes’ principal written work is posted at

For specific vitamin dosage information on CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE, Angina, Hypertension (High Blood Pressure), Congestive Heart Failure, and other heart-y topics, try a site search for "Shute" or for "heart" from the top of the main page at Do so, and there’s going to be a whole lot for you to look at . . . for which I make no apology whatsoever. Cardiovascular disease remains our number one enemy, the biggest killer of men AND women.

Copyright  C  2002 by Andrew W. Saul.

Andrew Saul is the author of the books FIRE YOUR DOCTOR! How to be Independently Healthy (reader reviews at ) and DOCTOR YOURSELF: Natural Healing that Works. (reviewed at )

For ordering information, Click Here .

Shute Vitamin E Treatment Protocol

Natural Alpha Tocopherol (Vitamin E) in the treatment of Cardiovascular and Renal Diseases as suggested by Drs. Wilfrid and Evan Shute and the Shute Institute for Clinical and Laboratory Medicine, London, Ontario, Canada. Use only products labeled in terms of InternatIonal Units (IU).

Acute coronary thrombosis: 450 to 1,600 IU a day started as soon as possible and maintained.

Older cases of coronary thrombosis: 450 to 1,600 IU if systolic pressure is under 160 Otherwise 450 IU for the first four weeks, particularly if a hypotensive agent is used concurrently.

Acute rheumatic fever: 450 to 600 IU daily.

Chronic rheumatic heart disease: give 90 IU daily first month, 120 IU daily second month and 150 IU daily for third month. 150 IU may be ideal dose. Occasionally more is necessary and advisable. Response will necessarily be slow.

Anginal Syndrome: 450 to 1,600 IU if systolic pressure is under 160. Otherwise start on 150 IU for four weeks then 300 IU for four weeks, particularly if hypotensive agent is used.

Hypertensive heart disease: 75 IU daily for four weeks, 150 IU daily for four weeks, then cautiously increase.  Should be used with hypotensive agents.  High doses of vitamin E have been shown to reduce high blood pressure in rats with chronic kidney failure. (Vaziri N.  Hypertension, Jan 2002.) 

Thrombophlebitis and Phlebothrombosis: 600 to 1,600 IU daily.

Thrombocytopaenic Purpura: 800 to 1,200 IU daily.

Diabetes Mellitus: Same schedule as for cardiacs.

Acute and Chronic Nephritis: as for cardiac patients.

Burns, Plastic Surgery, Mazoplasia: 600 to 1,600 IU daily, using vitamin E ointment or vitamin E spray as adjunct.  (Editor’s note: vitamin E may also be dripped from a thumbtack-punctured capsule.)


The maintenance dose equals the therapeutic dose.

Do not take iron and vitamin E at same time. If iron is indicated, separate the doses by about nine hours.

The digitalis requirement is often reduced after vitamin E takes hold, so over-digitalization should be avoided. A patient receiving vitamin E should not be digitalized by the Eggleston massive dose technique nor any of its modifications. It is usually sufficient for full digitalization to give what is ordinarily a maintenance dose of 1 1/2  grains digitalis folia or 0.1 mg digitoxin per day. By the second day the patient is often digitalized.

Insulin dosages in diabetic cardiacs must be watched closely, for the insulin requirement may be considerably reduced very suddenly.

Hyperthyroidism is sometimes a contraindication.

Estrogens should rarely be given at the same time as alpha tocopherol (vitamin E).

(Editor’s note: The Shutes also recommend caution with patients who have untreated high blood pressure, a rheumatic heart, or congestive heart failure. If you are a person with these or any other preexisting medical condition, you need to WORK WITH YOUR PHYSICIAN TO DETERMINE YOUR OPTIMUM VITAMIN E LEVEL.)


1. It reduces the oxygen requirement of tissues.
Hove, Hickman, and Harris (1945) Arch. Biochem. 8:395.

Telford et al (1954) Air University School of Aviation Medicine Project #21-1201-0013, Report #4, May. Randolph Field, Texas.

2. It melts fresh clots, and prevents embolism.
Shute, Vogelsang, Skelton and Shute (1948) Surg., Gyn. and Obst. 86:1.

Wilson and Parry (1954) Lancet 1:486.

3.  It improves collateral circulation.
Enria and Fererro (1951) Arch. per Ia Scienze Med. 91:23. 

Domingues and Dominguez (1953) Angiologia 5:51. 

4.  It is a vasodilator.
Shute, Vogelsang, Skelton and Shute (1948) Surg., Gyn. and Obst. 86:1.

5.  It occasionally lyses scar tissue.
Steinberg (1948) Med. Clin. N. America 30:221, 1946.

6. It prevents scar contraction as wounds heal.
Shute, Vogelsang, Skelton and Shute (1948) Surg., Gyn. and Obst. 86:1.

7.  It increases low platelet counts.
SkeIton, Shute, Skinner and Waud (1946) Science 103:762.

8. It decreases the insulin requirement in about 1/4 of diabetics.
Butturini (1950)  Gior. di Clin. Med. 31:1.

Tolgyes (1957) Summary 9:10.

9.  It is one of the regulators of fat and protein metabolism.
Hickman (1948) Rec. of Chem. Progress, p.104.

10.  It stimulates muscle power.
Percival (1951) Summary 3:55.

11. It preserves capillary walls.
Ames, Baxter and Griffith (1951) International Review of Vitamin Research 22:401.

12.  It prevents haemolysis of red blood cells.
Rose and Gyorgy (1951) Fed. Proc.10:239. 1951.


Tolgyes, S. and Shute, E. V. (1957), Alpha Tocopherol in the Management of Small Areas of Gangrene. Can. M. A. J.  76:730.

Shute, E.V. (1957) The Prevention of Congenital Anomalies in the Human: Experiences with Alpha Tocopherol as a Prophylactic Measure.  J. Ob. & Gyn. Brit. Emp. 44:390.

Hauch, J. T.  (1957) A New Treatment for Resistant Pressure Sores. Can. M.A.J. 77:125.

Shute, E. V. (1957) Alpha Tocopherol in Cardiovascular Disease. Oxford University Med. Gaz. 9:96.


Vitamin E is a fat soluble vitamin, and is remarkably safe. Doctors have given quantities as high as 3200 International Units (IU) per day harmlessly. This is over 100 times the U.S. Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA). 

The natural, best form of vitamin E is called "D-alpha tocopherol with mixed natural tocopherols." and is made from vegetable oil. The synthetic form is DL-alpha tocopherol. “D” or “DL”? Not a big difference in name, is it. There is evidence that the natural "D" (dextro-, or right-handed) molecular form of vitamin E is more useful to the body than is the synthetic. The natural form is also more expensive, but not all that much more. In choosing a vitamin E supplement, you should carefully read the label… the entire label. It is remarkable how many natural-looking brown bottles with natural-sounding brand names contain a synthetic vitamin. 


According to Wilfrid Shute, M.D. and Evan Shute, M.D., Vitamin E in quantity has many benefits. One is an oxygen-sparing effect on heart muscle.  Another benefit is that Vitamin E helps to gradually break down blood clots in the circulatory system, and helps prevent more from forming. Vitamin E encourages collateral circulation in the smaller blood vessels of the body. It seems to promote healing with the formation of much less scar tissue. Vitamin E helps strengthen and regulate the heartbeat. 

The above benefits, say the Shutes, mean that vitamin E is important in the treatment of many diseases of the circulatory system. These cardiologists treated heart attacks, angina, atherosclerosis, rheumatic fever, acute and chronic rheumatic heart disease, congenital heart diseases, intermittent claudication, varicose veins, thrombophlebitis, and high blood pressure. That’s quite a list, to which they soon added diabetes and burns as well. Many medical authorities were skeptical, to say the least. Vitamin E seemed to be too good for too many illnesses. 

Before the Shutes’ viewpoint on vitamin E can be disregarded we must consider that they treated more than 30,000 cardiac patients over a period of more than 30 years. Their success cannot be easily dismissed. Today, the Shute Institute in London, Ontario, Canada, continues to see cardiac patients from all over the world, providing what is arguably the most thorough and successful vitamin E treatment for heart disease anywhere. 

Drs. Wilfrid and Evan Shute give dosage information in their excellent books, many of which are readily available at bookstores, health food stores, and your public library. Be sure to ask the librarian and to use interlibrary loan if you have any trouble finding a book. Since the effective dose of vitamin E varies with the individual condition, it is always a good idea to have medical supervision. 


Persons with high blood pressure need to increase their daily amount of vitamin E gradually, say the Shutes. This is because the vitamin increases the strength of the heartbeat, and a gradual increase of E avoids any sudden rise in blood pressure. The Shutes found that over a period of months, a gradually increasing dose can yield a lower blood pressure. 

The Shutes said that persons with a chronic rheumatic heart do not tolerate much vitamin E and need medical supervision if they are to use it. 

Persons taking drugs such as Coumadin (warfarin) commonly find that their tests indicate a decreased need for "blood-thinning" drugs. The intelligent way to deal with this is to work with your doctor, who is responsible for your prescription. 

A person in good health may wish to begin with a supplemental amount of 200 I.U. of vitamin E per day and try it for a couple of weeks. Then, 400 IU  might be taken daily for another two weeks. For the next two weeks, 600 I.U. daily, and for the next two weeks, 800 I.U. per day and so on. One ultimately takes the least amount that gives the best results. This approach is essentially that of Richard A. Passwater and is provided in more detail in his book Supernutrition (1975, Pocket Books). 


Vitamin E is very effective on burns. (First aid is cold on a burn; apply the "E" later). You can drip the vitamin onto burned skin directly from the capsule. This is sanitary, soothing and painless. Even third degree burns heal much more readily with twice-daily applications of vitamin E. Less scarring and greatly reduced inflammation are continually reported with its use. Absorption of the vitamin is best if the skin is dry before application. 

For a large area of sunburned skin, mix a few 400 I.U. capsules with one or two tablespoons of olive oil. Gently rub this in as soon as possible after exposure. There will be little if any peeling if you apply the "E" mixture promptly. 

Individuals also report relief of hemorrhoids with topical use of vitamin E. Whoops! From heart disease to hemorrhoids? You can see why doctors often do not consider vitamin E to be a serious therapy. This vitamin is just too versatile. There are ways of understanding this, though. 

First, the reason one vitamin can cure so many ailments is that a deficiency of one vitamin can cause many ailments. Each vitamin has many different uses in the human body. There are, after all, just over a dozen vitamins and your body undergoes countless millions of different biochemical reactions daily. Therefore, each vitamin has to have a large variety of applications. 

Second, you can try using the vitamin and see for yourself how it works.


by Andrew W. Saul

(Reprinted with permission from the Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine, 2003; Vol. 18, Numbers 3 and 4, p. 205-212.)

"Some doctors claim that vitamin E helps many heart cases, but the official view is that the substance has not been proved of value in treating heart disease."

This statement could have been taken verbatim from any of a number of recent news media reports. But in fact, this particular quote is from a 1953 article in Maclean’s Magazine entitled "The Fight Over Vitamin E." (1)

Half a century later, it would seem that little has changed.

"(W)e do not support the continued use of vitamin E treatment and discourage the inclusion of vitamin E in future primary and secondary prevention trials in patients at high risk of coronary artery disease." (2)

This statement is from a 2003 analysis that looked at studies employing daily treatment dosages between 50 and 800 IU. Yet since the 1940’s, clinicians have been reporting that vitamin E dosages between 450 and 1,600 IU or more are required to effectively treat cardiovascular disease. I would enjoy seeing a meta-analysis of the work of Drs. Wilfrid and Evan Shute, who treated coronary thrombosis with 450 to 1,600 IU; angina with 450 to 1,600 IU; and thrombophlebitis with 600 to 1,600 IU of vitamin E daily. (3) The recent Lancet meta-analysis did not include them. There is nothing capricious about either study selection or dosage choice. Researchers and analysts know full well that high dosage will obtain different results than low dosage. Statistical analysis of meaningless studies will rarely enable a meaningful conclusion.


Countless comedians have made fun of the incompetent physician who, when called late at night during a life-threatening disease crisis, says, "take two aspirin and call me in the morning." Now it’s no longer funny. Recently, one of the largest pharmaceutical conglomerates in the world ran prime-time national television commercials that declared: "Bayer aspirin may actually help stop you from dying if you take it during a heart attack." The company also promotes such use of its product on the Internet. (4) This statement comes forth after a century of widespread aspirin consumption. Cardiovascular disease remains the number one killer of men and women and there are over a million heart attacks annually in the US alone.

If you produced a TV ad that said that megadoses of wheat germ oil, or the vitamin E in it, could save your life by preventing a heart attack, not only would people disbelieve you, you’d also be subject to arrest for breaking federal law. Foods and vitamins may not be advertised as treatments for specific diseases. "All statements of nutritional support for dietary supplements must be accompanied by a two-part disclaimer on the product label: that the statement has not been evaluated by FDA and that the product is not intended to "diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease."" (5)

Yet even traditional nutrition textbooks acknowledge the extensive scientific proof of successful treatment of intermittent claudication with vitamin E. "This therapy helps reduce the arterial blockage," says Nutrition and Diet Therapy, Seventh Edition, a standard dietetics work. (6) Unless there be something absolutely unique about arterial real estate between the knee and the ankle, would not vitamin E also help "reduce the blockage" in other arteries? This is rationale the Shutes used when, 65 years ago, they employed vitamin E to successfully treat circulatory diseases in thousands of patients, using daily dosages as high as 3,200 IU. For that achievement, they were praised by their patients and ostracized from the ranks of orthodox physicians.

By 1971, it was increasingly clear that the Shutes had gotten it right. Intermittent claudication, now regarded as a reliable sign of peripheral arterial disease, was shown by double-blind study to be diminished 66% with the use of vitamin E. The dosage administered was 1600 mg/day. (7)


1922 was the year the USSR was formed and "Little Orphan Annie" began. Trumpeter Al Hirt and future heart transplant pioneer Christiaan Barnard were born. Alexander Graham Bell died. And vitamin E was discovered by H. M. Evans and K. S. Bishop. (8)

In 1936, Evans’ team had isolated alpha tocopherol from wheat germ oil and vitamin E was beginning to be widely appreciated, and the consequences of deficiency better known. Health Culture Magazine for January, 1936 said, "The fertility food factor (is) now called vitamin E. Excepting for the abundance of that vitamin in whole grains, there could not have been any perpetuation of the human race. Its absence from the diet makes for irreparable sterility occasioned by a complete degeneration of the germinal cells of the male generative glands. (T)he expectant mother requires vitamin E to insure the carriage of her charge to a complete and natural term. If her diet is deficient in vitamin E . . . the woman is very apt to abort. . . It is more difficult to insure a liberal vitamin E supply in the daily average diet than to insure an adequate supply of any other known vitamin." (9)

And that very same year, 1936, the Shutes were already at work employing tocopherol from wheat germ oil to relieve angina symptoms. (10)

Since the word "tocopherol" is taken from the Greek words for "to carry offspring" or "to bring forth childbirth," it is easy enough to see how Evan Shute and other obstetricians were drawn into the work. As early as 1931, Vogt-Moller of Denmark successfully treated habitual abortion in human females with wheat germ oil vitamin E. By 1939 he had treated several hundred women with a success rate of about 80%. In 1937, both Young in England and the Shutes in Canada reported success in combating threatened abortion and pregnancy toxemias as well. A. L. Bacharach’s 1940 statistical analysis of published clinical results "show quite definitely that vitamin E is of value in recurrent abortions." (11) And also in 1940, the Shutes were curing atherosclerosis with vitamin E. By 1946, thrombosis, phlebitis, and claudication.

Yet when the MDR’s (Minimum Daily Requirements) first came out in 1941, there was no mention of vitamin E. It was not until 1959 that vitamin E was recognized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as necessary for human existence, and not until 1968 that any government recommendation for vitamin E would be issued. That year, the Food and Nutrition Board of the US National Research Council offered its first Recommended Daily Allowance: 30 IU. It has been as low as 15 IU in 1974 . In 2000, it was set at 22 IU (15 mg) for all persons, including pregnant women. This is somewhat odd in view a 70-year established research history showing how vital vitamin E is during gestation. It is another curious fact that today, when the public has been urged to increase its consumption of unsaturated fats, the official dietary recommendation for vitamin E is substantially lower than it was 35 years ago. "The requirement for vitamin E is related to the amount of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) consumed in the diet. The higher the amount of PUFAs, the more vitamin E is required." (12)

One reason the RDA was lowered is that "dieticians were having difficulty devising diets of natural foods which had the recommended amount (30 IU) of vitamin E." (13) There are about 39 IU of vitamin E in an 8-ounce cup of olive oil. A full pound of peanuts yields 34 IU. Professor Max K. Horwitt, Ph.D., who spent 15 years serving on The Food and Nutrition Board’s RDA committees, said in an interview that "The average intake by adults, without supplements, seems to be about 8 milligrams of alpha-tocopherol per day, or 8 tocopherol equivalents. This is equivalent to 12 International Units (IU)." (14) So it might be said that, in the end, the accommodation was not to raise the bridge but rather to lower the river.

Vitamin E is the body’s chief fat-soluble antioxidant. It is a powerful one indeed, when you consider that 22 IU is presumed adequate to protect each one of the tens of trillions of body cells in a human being. Even though there has been a veritable explosion in antioxidant research since 1968, the RDA for vitamin E has been decreased.


"Any claim in the labeling of drugs or of foods offered for special dietary use, by reason of Vitamin E, that there is need for dietary supplementation with Vitamin E, will be considered false." (United States Post Office Department Docket No. 1/187 (March 15, 1961)

On October 26, 1959, the US government charged an organization known as the Cardiac Society with postal fraud for selling 30 IU vitamin E capsules through the mail. Specifically, the charge was "the operation of a scheme or device for obtaining money through the mails by means of false and fraudulent pretenses, representations or promises . . . that Respondent’s product ‘E-FEROL 30 I.U.’ (containing vitamin E) is therapeutically effective and beneficial in the treatment of heart and cardiovascular diseases for any person so afflicted; that Respondent’s said product will prevent heart disease; that "It (vitamin E) is the key both to the prevention and treatment of all those conditions in which a lack of blood supply due to thickened or blocked blood vessels or a lack of oxygen is a part or the whole story of the disease"; that "Vitamin E seems to be a natural anti-thrombin in the human blood stream. . . It is the only substance preventing the clotting of blood which is not dangerous"; that the book "Your Heart and Vitamin E" tells you "What Vitamin E is and Does, How It Treats Heart Disease, Its Success In Circulatory Diseases, Your Foods’ Deficiency in Vitamin E" . . . That "It (the book) explains medical facts in every-day language concerning the help that is available for sufferers from diseases of the heart and blood vessels such as Coronary Heart Disease, Angina Pectoris, Phlebitis, Buerger’s Disease, Diabetes, Strokes, etc." (15)

A four-day hearing in Washington, D.C. generated sufficient testimony to fill "four volumes totaling 856 pages. Seventy-six exhibits were received in evidence. . . for the consideration of the Hearing Examiner. His Initial Decision covers forty-two pages."

It is an oddity of history that, at the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis, the United States of America found both the reason and the resources to prosecute such a case as this.

"The record here shows that the consensus of medical opinion is that Respondent’s claims are false and that this is the universality of medical opinion on the subject. Numerous tests and experiments have been conducted to attempt to substantiate the claims made by Respondent that Vitamin E is efficacious for treatment of a number of conditions but these have failed to substantiate the claims. It appears perfectly clear from the testimony of the expert witnesses that Respondent’s claims and representations are devoid of scientific support. . . The Hearing Examiner correctly found that the Respondent intends to deceive by its false representation and that actual fraud under established law is proven. . . A fraud order shall issue forthwith forbidding the delivery of mail and the payment of money orders incident to such scheme, to the Respondent, its agents and representatives, all in accordance with 39 U.S.C. 259 and 732." (15)

After this, all mail addressed to the Cardiac Society was returned to the sender, with "Fraudulent" stamped on the envelope.


Vitamin E has many clinically important and seemingly unrelated properties. In their books (16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21) the Shutes discuss a number of them.

1) Vitamin E strengthens and regulates heartbeat, like digitalis and similar drugs, at a dose adjusted between 800 to 3,000 IU daily.

2) Vitamin E reduces inflammation and scarring when frequently applied topically to burns or to sites of lacerations or surgical incisions. Internally, vitamin E helps to very gradually break down thrombi at a maintained oral dose of between 800 IU and 3,000 IU.

3) Vitamin E has an oxygen-sparing effect on the heart, enabling the heart can do more work on less oxygen. The benefit for recovering heart attack patients is considerable. 1,200 to 2,000 IU daily relieves angina very well. My father, duly diagnosed with angina, gradually worked up to 1,600 IU over a period of a few weeks. He never had an angina symptom again. In this, he had the identical success that thousands of Shute patients had.

4) Vitamin E moderately prolongs prothrombin clotting time, decreases platelet adhesion, and has a limited "blood thinning" effect. This is the reason behind the Shutes’ using vitamin E (1,000 – 2,000 IU/day) for thrombophlebitis and related conditions. The pharmaceutical industry and the medical profession are well aware of vitamin E’s anticoagulant property and that "very high doses of this vitamin may act synergistically with anticoagulant drugs." (21) However, this also means that vitamin E can, entirely or in part, substitute for such drugs but do so more safely. Perhaps this is best summed up by surgeon Edward William Alton Ochsner, M.D. (1896-1981) who said, "Vitamin E is a potent inhibitor of thrombin that does not produce a hemorrhagic tendency and therefore is a safe prophylactic against venous thrombosis." (23)

5) Vitamin E is a modest vasodilator, promotes collateral circulation, and consequently offers great benefits to diabetes patients. (24) The Shutes used a dose of about 800 IU or more, tailored to the patient. For this, among other reasons, Evan Shute, author of over 100 scientific papers, was literally judged to be a fraud by the United States Post Office Department. The 1961 court decision said, "Vascular degenerations in a diabetic are not effectively treated in the use of vitamin E in any dosage. . . vitamin E has been thoroughly studied and that there is no doubt whatsoever as to its lack of utility." (15)

This statement was premature to say the least. The "thorough study" of vitamin E was not quite completed by 1961. Thirty-eight years later, a crossover study of 36 patients who had Type I diabetes, and retinal blood flows that were significantly lower than non-diabetics, showed that those taking 1,800 IU of vitamin E daily obtained normal retinal blood flow. The patients with the worst initial readings improved the most. "(V)itamin E may potentially provide additional risk reduction for the development of retinopathy or nephropathy in addition to those achievable through intensive insulin therapy alone. Vitamin E is a low-cost, readily available compound associated with few known side effects; thus, its use could have a dramatic socioeconomic impact if found to be efficacious in delaying the onset of diabetic retinopathy and/or nephropathy." (25) Vitamin E also works synergistically with insulin to lower high blood pressure in diabetics. (26)


The most common reason for irreproducibility of successful vitamin E cures is either a failure to use enough of it, or a failure to use the natural form (D-alpha, plus mixed natural tocopherols), or both. For example, in an oft-quoted negative study (27), researchers who gave 300 milligrams of synthetic vitamin E to patients who had recently had a heart attack saw no beneficial effect. Such failure is to be expected. You can set up any experiment to fail. The Shutes would have used only the natural form, and four times as much.

Natural vitamin E is always the dextro- (right-handed) form. On the other hand, "synthetic vitamin E is a mixture of eight isomers in equal proportions containing only 12.5% of d-alpha tocopherol. One mg of dl-alpha tocopherol has the lowest Vitamin E equivalence of any of the common vitamin E preparations." (28)

There may be other differences. "Vitamin E derived from natural sources is obtained by molecular distillation and, in most cases, subsequent methylation and esterification of edible vegetable oil products. Synthetic vitamin E is produced from fossil plant material (coal tar) by condensation of trimethylhydroquinone with isophytol." (12)

While personal philosophy is the only possible basis for a decision to conduct a study using only the synthetic form of a vitamin, the use of low dosage is generally explained away by alleging doubts about safety.


The most elementary of forensic arguments is, where are the bodies? Poison control statistics report no deaths from vitamin E. (29) There is a reason for this. Vitamin E is a safe and remarkably non-toxic substance. Even the 2000 report by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, which actually recommends against taking supplemental vitamin E, specifically acknowledges that 1,000 mg (1,500 IU) is a "tolerable upper intake level . . . that is likely to pose no risk of adverse health effects for almost all individuals in the general population." (30) The Shutes observed no evidence of harm with doses as high as 8,000 IU/day. In fact, "toxicity symptoms have not been reported even at intakes of 800 IU per kilogram of body weight daily for 5 months" according to the Food and Nutrition Board. (31) This demonstrated safe level would work out to be around 60,000 IU daily for an average adult, some 2,700 times the RDA!

In addition to an awareness of anticoagulation medications, "Dr. Shute advises starting with small doses for patients who have rheumatic heart disease. He starts with 90 IU. and very slowly works up the dose. The reason for this is that if too much is given at the beginning the increased strength of the heartbeat may create some difficulty. The same applies to heart failure. The initial dose should be small and gradually increased. If this is done the final dose can safely reach 800 to 1200 IU." (31)


A Columbia University study reported progression of Alzheimer’s disease was significantly slowed in patients taking high daily doses (2,000 IU) of vitamin E for two years. (32) The vitamin worked better than the drug selegiline did. The patients in the Alzheimer’s study tolerated their vitamin E doses well. Perhaps the real story is that 2,000 IU per day for two years is safe for the elderly.


Children using anti-epileptic medication have reduced plasma levels of vitamin E, a sign of vitamin E deficiency. So doctors at the University of Toronto gave epileptic children 400 IU of vitamin E per day for several months, along with their medication. This combined treatment reduced the frequency of seizures in most of the children by over 60 percent. Half of them "had a 90 to 100 percent reduction in seizures." (33) This extraordinary result is also proof of the safety of 400 IU of vitamin E per day in children (equivalent to at least 800 to 1,200 IU/day for an adult). "There were no adverse side effects," said the researchers. It also provides a clear example of pharmaceutical use creating a vitamin deficiency, and an unassailable justification for supplementation.


Overexposure to oxygen has been a major cause of retrolental fibroplasia (retinopathy of prematurity) and subsequent blindness in premature infants. Incubator oxygen retina damage is now prevented by giving preemies 100 mg E per kilogram body weight. That dose is equivalent to an adult dose of about 7,000 IU for an average-weight adult. "There have been no detrimental side effects" from such treatment, said the New England Journal of Medicine, Dec. 3, 1981. (34) Nevertheless, the 1989 (sixth) edition of the textbook Nutrition and Diet Therapy (6) advised that "healthy persons stand the chance of developing signs of toxicity with the megadoses that are recommended in these studies." (p. 225) That incorrect statement was dropped in the book’s next edition. Instead, the 7th edition (1993) said under "Toxicity Effects" that "Vitamin E is the only one of the fat-soluble vitamins for which no toxic effect in humans is known. Its use as a supplement has not shown harmful effects." (p 186)


"Worst Pills, Best Pills" is a monthly newsletter published by Public Citizen, Ralph Nader’s "Health Research Group." The October, 2002 issue (Vol 8, No 10) contained this statement by editor Sidney M. Wolfe, M.D.: "You should not take dietary supplements. These products have not been tested or shown to be effective for any use, and their safety is unknown. The only exception to this advice is an inexpensive vitamin or mineral preparation." (p 80) On page 77, the doctor presents a JAMA study (35) alleging that a mere 200 mg of vitamin E is somehow detrimental to patients over the age of 60 with respiratory tract infections.

But there are other studies that Public Citizen might do well to present to its readership. Emanuel Cheraskin, M.D., writes: "The effect of daily vitamin E supplementation (800 IU alpha tocopherol for 30 days) on immune responses of 32 healthy subjects (60+ years old) was examined in a placebo-controlled, double-blind trial in a metabolic research unit. The data suggest that vitamin E supplementation improves immune responsiveness in healthy elderly." (36) In a second study, "using a double blind protocol, immune response was studied in a group receiving vitamin E (800 mg per day) versus placebo. The increased immunocompetence was matched by blood vitamin E levels which jumped from 1.1 to 3.1 mg%. No such change in blood vitamin E occurred in the control group (1.1 to 1.0 mg%)." (37)

A recent and perhaps even more important study looked at patients with colon cancer "who received a daily dose of 750 mg of vitamin E during a period of 2 weeks. Short-term supplementation with high doses of dietary vitamin E leads to increased CD4:CD8 ratios and to enhanced capacity by their T cells to produce the T helper 1 cytokines interleukin 2 and IFN-gamma. In 10 of 12 patients, an increase of 10% or more (average, 22%) in the number of T cells producing interleukin 2 was seen after 2 weeks of vitamin E supplementation." The authors concluded that "dietary vitamin E may be used to improve the immune functions in patients with advanced cancer." That improvement was achieved in only two weeks merits special attention. (38)

Note that the doses in these positive studies were nearly four times the dose used in the negative JAMA study cited by Dr. Wolfe.


Recent research has indicated that Vitamin E normalizes high blood pressure. (39, 40, 41) In some hypertensive persons, commencement of very large vitamin E doses may cause a slight temporary increase in blood pressure, although maintained supplementation can then be expected to lower it. The solution is to increase the vitamin gradually, along with the proper monitoring that hypertensive patients should have anyway. High blood pressure has been called the "silent killer," and nearly one-third of adults have it. It is all too frequently unrecognized and untreated.

Nearly half of all deaths are due to cardiovascular diseases, and often the first symptom is death. Advocating daily supplementation with several hundred IU’s of vitamin E would be good public health policy. Yet vitamin E, for decades lampooned as a "cure in search of a disease," remains virtually the "silent healer" for as much as the public has been advised of its benefits.

Back in 1985, Linus Pauling wrote: "The failure of the medical establishment during the last forty years to recognize the value of Vitamin E in controlling heart disease is responsible for a tremendous amount of unnecessary suffering and for many early deaths. The interesting story of the efforts to suppress the Shute discoveries about Vitamin E illustrates the shocking bias of organized medicine against nutritional measures for achieving improved health." (10, vii)

Dr. Pauling would most likely have appreciated this comment from a recent Harvard Health Letter: "A consistent body of research indicates that vitamin E may protect people against heart disease. . . The data generally indicate that taking doses ranging from 100 to 800 IU (International Units) per day may lower the risk of heart disease by 30%-40%." (42) Over half a century ago, the Shute brothers and colleagues showed that, with even higher doses than those, and with an insistence on the use of natural vitamin E, the results are better still.


1. Hutton, Eric (1953) The fight over vitamin E. Maclean’s Magazine, June 15.

2. Vivekananthan DP, Penn MS, Sapp SK, Hsu A, Topol, EJ. Use of antioxidant vitamins for the prevention of cardiovascular disease: meta-analysis of randomised trials. Lancet 2003; 361: 2017-23.

3. Natural alpha tocopherol (vitamin E) in the treatment of cardiovascular and renal diseases.


5. Dietary Supplements: An Advertising Guide for Industry, Part 3. Federal Trade Commission.

6. Williams SR. Nutrition and Diet Therapy, Seventh Edition. St. Louis: Mosby, 1993. (p 186). Sixth edition, 1989. (p 225).

7. Williams HTG, Fenna D, MacBeth RA. Alpha Tocopherol in the Treatment of Intermittent Claudication. Surgery, Gynecology and Obstetrics 132:#4, 662-666, April 1971.

8. Evans HM and Bishop KS. On the existence of a hitherto unrecognized dietary factor essential for reproduction. Science 56: 650, 1922.

9. Pacini AJ. Why we need vitamin E. Health Culture Magazine, January, 1936.

10. Shute E, and Shute JCM (ed). The vitamin E story. Burlington, Ontario: Welch Publishing, 1985.

11. British Medical Journal, i, 890, 1940 (cited in Bicknell & Prescott. The vitamins in medicine. Milwaukee: Lee Foundation, 1953, p 632)

12. Roche Vitamins: vitamin E in human nutrition.

13. Horwitt MK. Vitamin E: a reexamination. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 29(5):569-78. 1976.

14. HealthWorld Online Interviews with Nutritional Experts: ”Vitamin E and the RDA”

15. United States Post Office Department Docket No. 1/187. March 15, 1961.

16. Shute EV et al. The heart and vitamin E. London, Canada: Shute Foundation for Medical Research, 1963.

17. Shute WE. (Dr. Wilfred Shute’s) Complete updated vitamin E book. New Canaan, CT: Keats, 1975.

18. Shute WE and Taub HJ. Vitamin E for ailing and healthy hearts. New York: Pyramid House, 1975.

19. Shute WE. Health Preserver. Emmaus, PA: Rodale Press, 1977.

20. Shute WE. The Vitamin E Book. New Canaan, CT: Keats Publishing, 1978.

21. Shute WE. Your Child and Vitamin E. New Canaan, CT: Keats Publishing, 1979

22. Butterworth, Jr. CE. Vitamin Safety: A current appraisal. Backgrounder, Vol 5, No 1. Vitamin Nutrition Information Service, 1994.

23. Letter. New England Journal of Medicine 271, 4; July 23, 1964.

24. Shute, Vogelsang, Skelton and Shute. Surg., Gyn. and Obst. 86:1. 1948.

25. Bursell SE, Clermont AC, Aiello LP, Aiello LM, Schlossman DK, Feener EP, Laffel L, King GL. High-dose vitamin E supplementation normalizes retinal blood flow and creatinine clearance in patients with type 1 diabetes. Diabetes Care. 1999 Aug; 22(8):1245-51.

26. Koo JR, Ni Z, Oviesi F, Vaziri ND. Antioxidant therapy potentiates antihypertensive action of insulin in diabetic rats. Clin Exp Hypertens. 2002 Jul;24(5):333-44.

27. Gruppo Italiano per lo Studio della Sopravvivenza nell’Infarto miocardico. Dietary supplementation with n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and vitamin E after myocardial infarction: results of the GISSI-Prevenzione trial. Lancet. 1999 Aug 7;354(9177):447-55.

28. Hoffer A. Personal communication, June 2003.

29. Rosenbloom M. Vitamin toxicity. . October 23, 2001.

30. Vita-Mania: RDA for C, E Raised; Limits Set

The Associated Press, Washington, April 11, 2000.

31. Rosenberg H and Feldzamen AN. The book of vitamin therapy. New York: Berkley Publishing Corp, 1974.

32. Sano M, Ernesto C, Thomas RG, Klauber MR, Schafer K, Grundman M, Woodbury P, Growdon J, Cotman CW, Pfeiffer E, Schneider LS, Thal LJ. A controlled trial of selegiline, alpha-tocopherol, or both as treatment for Alzheimer’s disease. The Alzheimer’s Disease Cooperative Study. N Engl J Med. Apr 24; 336(17):1216-22. 1997.

33. Ogunmekan AO, Hwang PA. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, clinical trial of D-alpha-tocopheryl acetate (vitamin E), as add-on therapy, for epilepsy in children. Epilepsia. 1989 Jan-Feb; 30(1):84-9.

34. Hittner HM, Godio LB, Rudolph AJ, Adams JM, Garcia-Prats JA, Friedman Z, Kautz JA, Monaco WA. Retrolental fibroplasia: efficacy of vitamin E in a double-blind clinical study of preterm infants. N Engl J Med. 1981 Dec 3; 305(23):1365-71.

35. Graat JM, Schouten EG, Kok FJ. Effect of daily vitamin E and multivitamin-mineral supplementation on acute respiratory tract infections in elderly persons: a randomized controlled trial. JAMA. 2002 Aug 14;288(6): 715-21.

36. Cheraskin E. Antioxidants in health and disease: the big picture. Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine 10: #2, 89-96, Second Quarter, 1995, citing Meydani, S.N., Barklund, M.P., Liu, S., Meydani, M., Miller, R.A., Cannon, J.G., Morrow, F.D., Rocklin, R., Blumberg, J.B. Effect of Vitamin E Supplementation on Immune Responsiveness of Healthy Elderly Subjects. FASEB Journal 3: A1057, 1989.

37. Meydani, S.N., Barkiund, M.P., Liu, S., Meydani, M., Miller, R.A., Cannon, J.G., Morrow, F.D., Rocklin, R., Blumberg, J.B. Vitamin E supplementation enhances cell-mediated immunity in healthy elderly subjects. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 52:#3, 557-563, September 1990.

38. Malmberg KJ, Lenkei R, Petersson M, Ohlum T, Ichihara F, Glimelius B, Frodin JE, Masucci G, Kiessling R. A short-term dietary supplementation of high doses of vitamin E increases T helper 1 cytokine production in patients with advanced colorectal cancer. Clin Cancer Res. 2002 Jun; 8(6):1772-8.

39. Vasdev S, Gill V, Parai S, Longerich L, Gadag V. Dietary vitamin E supplementation lowers blood pressure in spontaneously hypertensive rats. Mol Cell Biochem. 2002 Sep; 238(1-2):111-7.

40. Vaziri ND, Ni Z, Oveisi F, Liang K, Pandian R. Enhanced nitric oxide inactivation and protein nitration by reactive oxygen species in renal insufficiency. Hypertension. 2002 Jan; 39(1):135-41.

41. Galley HF, Thornton J, Howdle PD, Walker BE, Webster NR. Combination oral antioxidant supplementation reduces blood pressure. Clin Sci (Lond). 1997 Apr;92(4):361-5.

42. President and Fellows of Harvard College. Antioxidants: what they are and what they do. Harvard Health Letter. Feb 1999; 24(5)

A bibliography of selected books and papers by Wilfrid and Evan Shute is posted at .

Dr. Evan Shute’s autiobiography, The Vitamin E Story, was reviewed by Andrew Saul in the Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine, Volume 17, Number 3, Third Quarter, 2002 (p 179-181) and is also posted online at .

The great Canadian medical doctors Wilfrid E. Shute and Evan V. Shute revolutionized cardiology when they first introduced vitamin E megadose therapy. Over several decades, from the 1940’s into the late 1970’s, the Shutes would successfully treat over 30,000 patients with huge doses of vitamin E.  Today’s growing appreciation of the role of d-alpha tocopherol in preventing, and reversing, cardiovascular disease is due  primarily to the Shute brothers, pioneers of orthomolecular medicine.

Partial Bibliography of Papers and Books
Shute, EV. et al. (1963) The Heart and Vitamin E. London, Canada: The Shute Foundation for Medical Research.  Shute, EV. (1972)

Proposed study of vitamin E therapy. Can Med Assoc J. 1972 May 20;106(10):1057. 

Shute, EV. (1973) Letter: Vitamin E fatigue? Calif Med. Oct;119(4):73. 

Shute, W. E. and Taub, H. J. (1969) Vitamin E for Ailing and Healthy Hearts. New York: Pyramid House. 

Shute, Wilfrid E. (1977) Health Preserver. Emmaus, PA: Rodale Press. 

Shute Wilfrid E. (1978) The Vitamin E Book. New Canaan, CT: Keats Publishing. (No known electronic link) Shute, Wilfrid E. (1975)

Complete Updated Vitamin E Book. New Canaan, CT: Keats Publishing

Shute, Wilfrid E. (1979) Your Child and Vitamin E. New Canaan, CT: Keats Publishing. 

Personal Communication Shute, Evan (Dec. 13, 1974) – (No known electronic link)  

Personal Communication Shute, Evan (August 29, 1974) – (No known electronic link)  

Personal Communication Shute, Vere (Dec. 14, 1978) – (No known electronic link)

Of Related Interest:

Bailey, Herbert (1968) The Vitamin Pioneers. Emmaus, PA: Rodale Books 

Chan AC. (1998) Vitamin E and atherosclerosis. J Nutr. Oct;128(10):1593-6. Review. Murray, Frank (1978) Program Your Heart for Health. New York: Larchmont. 

Popular Science Digest (1953) Natural vitamin E for heart diseases. March, pp 4-6. (No known electronic link)

Ratcliff, J. D. (1948) For heart disease: vitamin E. Coronet. October. (No known electronic link)
Rimm, E.B., Stampfer, M.J., Ascherio, A., Giovannucci, E., Colditz, G.A. and Willett W.C. (1993) Vitamin E consumption and the risk of coronary heart disease in men. New England Journal of Medicine 328:1450-1456. 

Rinse, Jacobus (1975) Atherosclerosis: prevention and cure (parts 1 and 2). Prevention. November and December. (No known electronic link)

Stampfer, M.J., Hennekens, C.H., Manson, J., Colditz, G.A., Rosner, B. and Willett, W.C. (1993) Vitamin E consumption and the risk of coronary disease in women. New England Journal of Medicine. 328:1444-1449. 

(This page is under construction. Additions and corrections are welcomed.)

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