OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

college of public health and human sciences

ACL injuries may be prevented by different landing strategy

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Women are two to eight times more likely than men to suffer a debilitating tear of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in the knee and a new study suggests that a combination of body type and landing techniques may be to blame.

In two new studies published online this week in the Journal of Athletic Training, lead author Marc Norcross of Oregon State University documents how women who were asked to undergo a series of jumping exercises landed more often than men in a way associated with elevated risk of ACL injuries.

Both men and women tended to land stiffly, which can lead to ACL injuries, but women were 3.6 times more likely to land in a “knock-kneed” position, which the researchers say may be the critical factor leading to the gender disparity in ACL tears.

“We found that both men and women seem to be using their quad region the same, so that couldn’t explain why females are more at risk,” Norcross said. “Using motion analysis, we were able to pinpoint that this inability to control the frontal-plane knee loading – basically stress on the knee from landing in a knock-kneed position – as a factor more common in women.

“Future research may isolate why women tend to land this way,” he added, “but it could in part be because of basic biology. Women have wider hips, making it more likely that their knees come together after jumping.”

Norcross, an assistant professor of exercise and sport science in OSU’s College of Public Health and Human Sciences, is a former collegiate athletic trainer dedicating his research to the prevention of ACL tears.

“You see ACL injuries in any sport where you have a lot of jump stops and cuts, so basketball, soccer, lacrosse, and volleyball are high-risk sports,” said Norcross. “We know that people who hurt themselves tend to look stiff when they land and that the combined ‘knee loading’ from multiple directions is likely causing the injury event. But it wasn’t clear initially why women had more injuries than men.”

The researchers used motion analysis software to monitor the landing strategies of 82 physically active men and women. They found that both males and females had an equal likelihood of landing stiffly – likely from tensing the muscles in their quads before landing – putting them at higher risk of ACL tears. Women, however, were more likely to land in a “knee valgus” position, essentially knock-kneed.

Norcross said his next research project will focus on high school athletes, looking at a sustainable way to integrate injury prevention into team warm-up activities through improving landing technique.

“We are trying to create a prevention strategy that is sustainable and will be widely used by high school coaches,” he said. “A lot of athletes do come back from an ACL injury, but it is a long road. And the real worry is that it leads to early onset arthritis, which then impacts their ability to stay physically active.”

This study was supported by the NATA Research & Education Foundation Doctoral Grant Program.

Researchers from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Greensboro contributed to this study.

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Marc Norcross, 541-737-6788

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ACL jumping landing
Biomechanical model of a female using a “knock-kneed” technique and experiencing high frontal plane knee loading during a jump landing.

Science Pub focuses on getting ready for school

CORVALLIS, Ore. – If you want to know if your kindergartener will succeed in school, look to Simon Says for an answer. Or to Red Light/Green Light. Or to the marshmallow game. 

At the Corvallis Science Pub on Sept. 9, Megan McClelland will demonstrate how these and other tasks can be used to determine if a child is ready for school. Her Science Pub presentation begins at 6 p.m. at the Old World Deli, located at 341 S.W. Second St. in Corvallis. It is free and open to the public.

“We’re talking about being able to sit still, follow directions and play well with other kids,” said McClelland, an associate professor in the Oregon State University College of Public Health and Human Sciences. To be prepared for school, “they need to have some self-control as well as some basic academic skills.”

These games, she added, give children an opportunity to demonstrate self-regulation, the ability to control their behavior, thoughts and emotions.

McClelland specializes in early childhood development, but self-regulation turns out to be critical for success later in life as well. In 2012, McClelland reported that stronger self-regulation in young children is associated with later success in college.

McClelland is the director of the Early Childhood Research Core in the Hallie E. Ford Center for Healthy Children and Families at Oregon State. Her research focuses on social and cognitive development in young children and pathways to school readiness.

Sponsors of Science Pub include Terra magazine at OSU, the Downtown Corvallis Association and the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry.

 

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Megan McClelland, 541-737-9225

Runs to benefit OSU’s MS Exercise Program held Sept. 21

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Two different runs will be held Saturday, Sept. 21, at Willamette Park to benefit Oregon State University’s Multiple Sclerosis Exercise Program, an individualized exercise program for people with multiple sclerosis.

The events will include a 4-mile timed trail run and a 2-mile fun run/walk accessible for people with limited mobility. Participants in the program receive free one-on-one assistance from OSU graduate students who are studying improved health for people with disabilities in the Movement Studies in Disability program, which is housed in OSU’s College of Public Health and Human Sciences.

The cost for the event, titled Corvallis Run for Your Life, is $15 for the 4-mile run and $10 for the 2-mile run/walk. All proceeds benefit the MS Exercise Program. To sign up, go to http://corvallisrunforyourlife.com/

Corvallis resident and OSU employee Rachel Robertson is organizing the event on behalf of her sister, Andrea Weiser. Weiser grew up in Corvallis and graduated from Crescent Valley High School in 1986. An avid outdoorswoman and athlete, Weiser was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis two years ago.

“When she first was diagnosed, she could barely walk,” Robertson said. “She is working her way back up now. It’s very important to stay active when you have MS, and the program at OSU provides such an essential service for so many in the community.”

Sponsors of the Run for Your Life include OSU’s Linus Pauling Institute, Coffee Culture, Encore Physical Therapy, Corvallis Radiology, Corvallis Sport and Spine Physical Therapy, Mazama Brewing, Pride Printing Company, Samaritan Health Services, and Ryan Sparks, DMD.

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Rachel Robertson, 541-230-1282

Athletes need to be careful to monitor diet, weight to maintain muscle mass

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Athletes seeking a healthy performance weight should eat high fiber, low-fat food balanced with their training regimen in order to maintain muscle while still burning fat, according to a report by an Oregon State University researcher.

The United States now has a record number of overweight athletes, a population many think of as untouched by the obesity crisis. Nationally, more than 45 percent of high school linebackers are obese, and the number of overweight students entering college level-sports is increasing.

In a peer-reviewed literature review published this summer in the Nestle Nutritional Institution Workshop Series, OSU researcher Melinda Manore looked at the benefits of teaching athletes how to consume what she calls a low-energy-dense diet, or high-fiber, high-water, but lower-fat foods. She said too many athletes are pushed into fad diets or try to restrict calorie intake too much in a way that is unhealthy and unsustainable.

“Depending on the sport, athletes sometime want to either lose weight without losing lean tissue, or gain weight, mostly lean tissue,” she said. “This is very difficult to do if you restrict caloric intake too dramatically or try to lose the weight too fast. Doing that also means they don’t have the energy to exercise, or they feel tired and put themselves at risk of injury.”

Manore is professor of nutrition in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences at OSU. She said the overwhelming body of research shows that just counting calories does not work. What does work is a healthy lifestyle that can be maintained, even during breaks or when not in training. She said an athlete’s optimum body weight should include the following criteria:

  • Weight that minimizes health risks and promotes good eating
  • Weight that takes into consideration genetic makeup and family history
  • Weight that is appropriate for age and level of physical development, including normal reproductive function in women
  • Weight that can be maintained without constant dieting and restraining food intake

In the paper, Manore outlined some strategies that athletes can use to maintain a healthy weight and remain performance-ready. It’s important, she said, to adopt a low-energy-dense diet, which includes a large amount of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meat, fish, and low-fat dairy. Avoid beverages high in sugar, especially soda and alcohol. Manore said half of a plate of food should be filled with fruits and veggies, and processed food should be avoided.

“Always opt for the food over the drink, don’t drink your calories,” Manore said. “Instead of drinking orange juice, eat an orange. It has more fiber, and fills you up more.”

Other key points:

  • Eat breakfast. Data from the National Weight Control Registry shows that 80 percent of people who lost at least 30 pounds in a year and kept it off were breakfast eaters. Eat a breakfast rich with high-fiber whole grains, fruit, high-quality protein such as egg whites, and low-fat dairy. Skip the processed cereals.
  • Get plenty of protein. Most athletes get plenty of protein, but they may not be strategic about making sure to refuel after exercise, and spreading their protein intake throughout the day. Depending on the goals, some athletes may need to get as much as 30 percent of their calories from protein, but many get that in one large meal. Spreading that protein out throughout the day is a better strategy; and nuts, beans and legumes are a great source of protein, not just meat.
  • Exercise regularly. This may seem obvious for an athlete, but many seasonal athletes can pack on pounds during off-seasons, making it that much harder to get performance-ready.
  • Avoid fad diets. Combining severe calorie restriction with intense training can result in metabolic adaptions that actually can make it more difficult to lose weight. Severe weight loss also makes an athlete stressed out and tired, and that is never good for sport.

While her paper is aimed at competitive and recreational athletes, Manore said all of these tips can apply to anyone who wants to change their diet and head in a healthier direction.

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Melinda Manore, 541-737-8701

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OSU soccer playing
Students playing soccer at Legacy Park in Corvallis. April 2013. (photo by Jan Sonnenmair)

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Melinda Manore

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Energy balance graphic

Children with delayed motor skills struggle more socially

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Studies have shown that children with autism often struggle socially and now new research suggests that a corresponding lack of motor skills – including catching and throwing – may further contribute to that social awkwardness.

The findings, published in the July issue of Adapted Physical Activity Quarterly, add to the growing body of research highlighting the link between autism and motor skill deficits.

Lead author Megan MacDonald is an assistant professor in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences at Oregon State University. She is an expert on the movement skills of children with autism spectrum disorder.

In the study, researchers looked at a group of young people ages 6 to 15 diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. All 35 of the students were considered high-functioning and attended typical classrooms. The researchers looked at two types of motor skills – “object-control” motor skills, which involve more precise action such as catching or throwing – and “locomotion” skills, such as running or walking. Students who struggled with object-control motor skills were more likely to have more severe social and communication skills than those who tested higher on the motor skills test.

“So much of the focus on autism has been on developing social skills, and that is very crucial,” MacDonald said. “Yet we also know there is a link between motor skills and autism, and how deficits in these physical skills play into this larger picture is not clearly understood.”

Developing motor skills can be crucial for children because students often “mask” their inability to participate in basic physical activities. A student with autism may not be participating on the playground because of a lack of social skills, but the child may also be unsure of his or her physical ability to play in these activities.

“Something which seems as simple as learning to ride a bike can be crucial for a child with autism,” MacDonald said. “Being able to ride a bike means more independence and autonomy. They can ride to the corner store or ride to a friend’s house. Those kind of small victories are huge.”

She said the ability to run, jump, throw and catch isn’t just for athletic kids – physical activity is linked not only to health, but to social skills and mental well-being.

“I often show people photos of what I like to do in my spare time – canoeing, hiking, snowshoeing, and then point out that these require relatively proficient motor skills,” she said. “But that is not why I do those things. I’m doing it because I’m with my friends and having fun.”

MacDonald said the positive news for parents and educators is that motor skills can be taught.

“We have programs and interventions that we know work, and have measurable impact on motor skill development,” MacDonald said. “We need to make sure we identify the issue and get a child help as early as possible.”

This study was coauthored by Catherine Lord of Weill Cornell Medical College and Dale Ulrich of the University of Michigan.

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Megan MacDonald, 541-737-3273

Cost of child care continues to rise in Oregon; majority not in centers or organized care

The report this article is based on can be found at: http://health.oregonstate.edu/sbhs/family-policy-program/occrp-childcare-dynamics-publications

 

CORVALLIS, Ore. – The cost of child care in Oregon continues to rise even as wages decline, especially for the state’s most fragile families.

According to a new Oregon State University report looking at child care in the state and in every Oregon county, child care prices increased 13 percent from 2004 to 2012 while household incomes declined 9 percent.

The average annual cost of toddler care in a child care center in Oregon is now $11,064, up from $10,392 in 2010. Nationally, the cost of child care continues to rise, with child care expenditures taking a higher percentage of household income in 2011 than in 2005. Child Care Aware of America lists Oregon as the third most expensive state for infant child care (price as a percentage of income) in the nation.

“Families struggle to provide children the experiences they want for them,” said Bobbie Weber, a faculty research associate at the Family Policy Program in OSU’s College of Public Health and Human Sciences and author of the report. Weber issues a new report every two years on child care in Oregon.

Survey findings show the majority of Oregonians rely on a parent, relative or close friend to care for their children. This is even the case for preschoolers (ages 3 to 4), which is the group with the highest rate of “organized care,” or care in a center or family child care home. More than 55 percent of those children are either at home with a parent or in an “informal” setting, such as with a relative or friend of the family.

“There is a perception that the majority of our kids are in a child care center or preschool, and it simply isn’t true,” Weber said. “For policy reasons, we need strategies to support children who are in home settings with parents, relatives, or others. Parents and caregivers need to have easy access to information and strategies for making children successful if we are to reach the goal of all children being ready for kindergarten.”

Weber said interventions have shown that home visiting programs, where an educator visits a home and provides information and resources to the adult and child alike, as well as Play and Learn groups, or community-based settings for child providers and kids to come together and work with a trained educator, have proven successful.

While there are subsidies available for those earning up to 185 percent of the federal poverty level, parents have to pay part of their child care fees and that amount rises as incomes rise. Over the last few years, budget cuts have constrained how many families can be served. In 2012, approximately 13,000 children were served each month by the Employment Related Day Care Program, slightly more than half the number served in 2009.

“A lot more people are getting engaged and becoming aware of the struggles facing parents,” Weber said. “We are seeing increases in some of the programs that support children and families. It is likely that funds will be restored to the child care subsidy program and there will be an increase in Oregon Head Start Prekindergarten. Both programs enable low income families to access learning opportunities for their children.”

This year, an interactive map is available that allows people to find out about child care and education in their elementary school area, school district, or county. The map is available at: http://health.oregonstate.edu/occrp-map. Maps were produced by Jes Mendez of the Oregon Employment Department.

Weber is a member of Gov. John Kitzhaber’s Early Learning Council, which has been tasked to design the most effective early-childhood system, one that will ensure children arrive at kindergarten ready to learn.

A full report and map for each county in Oregon can be found at: http://bit.ly/13DzxbL

Some of the county findings include:

  • Child care prices have continued to rise while incomes have dropped. It is 24 times harder (measured by increase of prices combined with decrease in income) for a family to purchase care in 2012 than in 2004. It is 33 percent harder for single parents in 2012 than in 2004.
  • The most expensive county in Oregon for child care was Washington County, where the average annual cost was $12,348 for toddler care. Multnomah, Benton and Clackamas counties followed closely as the most expensive.
  • Rural counties in general suffer from a lack of resources. Many rural areas do not have enough family day care providers or child care centers to meet the needs of the communities.
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Bobbie Weber, 541-737-9243

“Boys will be boys” in U.S., but not in Asia

The study this story is based on can be found at: http://hdl.handle.net/1957/38611

CORVALLIS, Ore. – A new study shows there is a gender gap when it comes to behavior and self-control in American young children – one that does not appear to exist in children in Asia.

In the United States, girls had higher levels of self-regulation than boys. Self-regulation is defined as children’s ability to control their behavior and impulses, follow directions, and persist on a task. It has been linked to academic performance and college completion, in past studies by Oregon State University researchers.

In three Asian countries, the gender gap in the United States was not found when researchers directly assessed the self-regulation of 3-6 year olds. The results appear in the new issue of the journal Early Childhood Research Quarterly.

“These findings suggest that although we often expect girls to be more self-regulated than boys, this may not be the case for Asian children,” said Shannon Wanless, lead author of the study.

Wanless began conducting the research during her doctoral studies at Oregon State University under Megan McClelland, an associate professor in OSU’s Hallie E. Ford Center for Healthy Children and Families. Wanless is now on the faculty at the University of Pittsburgh.

One interesting part of the researcher’s findings: Although there were no gender differences in self-regulation when the children were directly assessed using a variety of school-readiness tasks, teachers in Asia perceived girls as performing better on self-regulation even when they actually performed equally to boys.

“Teachers are rating children's behavior in the classroom environment, which has a lot of distractions and is very stimulating,” Wanless said. “It is possible that boys in the Asian countries were able to self-regulate as well as girls when they were in a quiet space (the direct assessment), but were not able to regulate themselves as well in a bustling classroom environment (teacher ratings).”

In addition, McClelland said cultural expectations of girls’ behavior versus that of their male peers may be influencing teachers’ assessments.

“In general, there is more tolerance for active play in boys than in girls,” McClelland said. “Girls are expected to be quiet and not make a fuss. This expectation may be coloring some teachers’ perceptions.”

The researchers conducted assessments with 814 children in the United States, Taiwan, South Korea and China. Their study showed that U.S. girls had significantly higher self-regulation than boys, but there were no significant gender differences in any Asian societies. In addition, for both genders, directly assessed and teacher-rated self-regulation were related to many aspects of school readiness in all societies for girls and boys.

“We know from previous research that many Asian children outperform American children in academic achievement,” McClelland said. “Increasingly, we are seeing that there is also a gap when it comes to their ability to control their behavior and persist with tasks.”

Wanless said this study paves the way for future research to explore why there is such a large gender gap in the United States, and what can be learned from Asian schools.

“What can we learn from Asian cultural and teaching practices about how we can support girls and boys to be successful in school?” she said. “When we see differences in developmental patterns across countries it suggests that we might want to look at teaching and parenting practices in those countries and think about how they might apply in the United States.”

Both researchers emphasized the importance of working with young children, regardless of gender or culture, on their self-regulation skills. Practicing games such as Simon Says and Red Light, Green Light are a few ways that parents can work with their children to help them learn how to follow instructions, persist on a task, and listen carefully.

“In our study, self-regulation was good for academic achievement for boys and girls,” Wanless said. “That means this skill is important for both genders and we should be supporting self-regulatory development for all children, especially boys. Low self-regulation in preschool has been linked to difficulties in adulthood, so increased focused on supporting young boys' development can have long-term positive benefits.”

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Megan McClelland, 541-737-9225; Shannon Wanless, 412-624-6946

Oregon Parenting Education Week takes place May 19-25

CORVALLIS, Ore.– Oregon State University’s Hallie E. Ford Center for Healthy Children and Families, which has taken a leadership role in parenting education in Oregon, will hold a series of events May 20, 21 and 23, as part of Oregon Parenting Education Week.

“Of all the things that influence a child’s growth and development, the most critical is reliable, responsive and sensitive parenting,” said Denise Rennekamp, outreach coordinator for the Hallie Ford Center.

“Parenting skills can be enhanced by effective parenting education. The seminar series is an opportunity to increase awareness about the importance of parenting and the value of parenting education in optimizing outcomes for children.”

The events include:

Monday, May 20, noon: “Cultivating a Community-wide Culture of Nurturing Along the Southern Oregon Coast,” a presentation by Stephen J. Bavolek, executive director of the Family Nurturing Centers, International

Tuesday, May 21, 2 p.m.: “Supporting Children’s First Teachers: Promoting school readiness through parent education,” a presentation by Katherine Pears with the Oregon Social Learning Center

Thursday, May 23, 10 a.m.: “Boys, Men, Fathers: A 30-year intergenerational study of how fatherhood impacts men and their families,” a presentation by David Kerr of Oregon State University. Hallie Ford Center Endowed Director Richard Settersten will provide an introduction titled “How Fatherhood Matters for Men’s Lives.”

All of the events, held in Hallie Ford Center room 115, are free and open to the public.

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Denise Rennekamp, 541-737-1013

New biomechanics lab in Bend one of the few of its kind in the country

BEND, Ore. – A new biomechanics laboratory opening this May in Bend will provide cutting-edge research and intervention strategies for injuries – especially knees, ankles and hips – creating a perfect match with Central Oregon’s population of elite and recreational athletes.

The Functional Orthopedic Research Center of Excellence, or FORCE Laboratory, is led by researchers at Oregon State University-Cascades, in partnership with Therapeutic Associates-Bend Physical Therapy and The Center Orthopedic & Neurological Care & Research and The Center Foundation.

It is one of the few such partnerships of its kind in the country, organizers say.

“What makes this lab unique is that it is a partnership between a university, orthopedic surgeons, sports medicine physicians and physical therapists,” said Christine Pollard, an associate professor of exercise and sports science at OSU-Cascades, and director of the FORCE Lab. “The best place to do research is in a clinical setting with a multi-disciplinary team, which we will have.

“Most cutting edge biomechanics labs are located on a university campus – not in a clinical setting,” she added. “The potential for clinically applied research is tremendous.”

Pollard said research at the FORCE Lab will include analyzing and creating effective injury prevention strategies and rehabilitation practices; and improving the efficiency and performance of human movement. One planned research project, for example, is to assess potential differences in the recovery and performance of patients with reconstructed anterior cruciate ligaments (ACLs), comparing allografts from cadavers with those from patients’ own bodies – usually their hamstring or patellar tendons.

Other areas of research will range from examining recovery from complex injuries to metabolic testing of running and movement efficiency related to biomechanics. FORCE Lab partners already are in discussions with footwear companies about collaborative research.

“Central Oregon has a highly active population of ages across the lifespan,” Pollard said. “Because of that activity, they have acute injuries from skiing or climbing, as well as repetitive injuries from long-term running or cycling. That is one reason Bend is such an ideal location for this kind of collaborative research laboratory.”

The lab will offer sports performance analysis, medical intervention and injury prevention and rehabilitation guidance in addition to its research mission.  The lab has a suite of sophisticated equipment, including an eight-camera motion analysis system, two “force plates,” a treadmill with a metabolic cart, ultrasound equipment, and video cameras.

OSU-Cascades students will have an opportunity to participate in lab activities, Pollard noted, creating a rich environment for experiential learning.

“In addition to helping conduct state-of-the-art research, our students will get to work with orthopedists, sports medicine doctors, physical therapists, athletic trainers and others,” she pointed out.

Other opportunities will emerge as the FORCE Lab grows over time, she said.

“A number of our studies will be driven by physician interest,” Pollard said. “We’ve already been asked to participate in a study on concussions that involves Oregon Health & Sciences University and the University of Oregon, as well as local schools and their athletic trainers.

“The future is very, very bright.”

More information on the FORCE Laboratory is available at: http://www.osucascades.edu/force-lab

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Christine Pollard, 541-322-3122

Excess vitamin E intake not a health concern

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Despite concerns that have been expressed about possible health risks from high intake of vitamin E, a new review concludes that biological mechanisms exist to routinely eliminate excess levels of the vitamin, and they make it almost impossible to take a harmful amount.

No level of vitamin E in the diet or from any normal use of supplements should be a concern, according to an expert from the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University. The review was just published in the Journal of Lipid Research.

“I believe that past studies which have alleged adverse consequences from vitamin E have misinterpreted the data,” said Maret Traber, an internationally recognized expert on this micronutrient and professor in the OSU College of Public Health and Human Sciences.

“Taking too much vitamin E is not the real concern,” Traber said. “A much more important issue is that more than 90 percent of people in the U.S. have inadequate levels of vitamin E in their diet.”

Vitamin E is an antioxidant and a very important nutrient for proper function of many organs, nerves and muscles, and is also an anticoagulant that can reduce blood clotting. It can be found in oils, meat and some other foods, but is often consumed at inadequate dietary levels, especially with increasing emphasis on low-fat diets.

In the review of how vitamin E is metabolized, researchers have found that two major systems in the liver work to control the level of vitamin E in the body, and they routinely excrete excessive amounts. Very high intakes achieved with supplementation only succeed in doubling the tissue levels of vitamin E, which is not harmful.

“Toxic levels of vitamin E in the body simply do not occur,” Traber said. “Unlike some other fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamins A and D, it’s not possible for toxic levels of vitamin E to accumulate in the liver or other tissues.”

Vitamin E, because of its interaction with vitamin K, can cause some increase in bleeding, research has shown. But no research has found this poses a health risk.

On the other hand, vitamin E performs many critical roles in optimum health. It protects polyunsaturated fatty acids from oxidizing, may help protect other essential lipids, and has been studied for possible value in many degenerative diseases. Higher than normal intake levels may be needed for some people who have certain health problems, and smoking has also been shown to deplete vitamin E levels.

Traber said she recommends taking a daily multivitamin that has the full RDA of vitamin E, along with consuming a healthy and balanced diet.

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Maret Traber, 541-737-7977