Saving the world isn't just for superheros anymore - now soybean growers have their shot at it.
What's their weapon? Soy-based vitamin E, a dietary supplement that can:
* Reduce the risk of heart disease, lowering chances of a heart attack by as much as 75%.
* Lessen the likelihood of developing prostate cancer by 30% - and chances of dying from it by 40%.
* Significantly cut menopausal symptoms without the use of hormones.
* Aid in the control of diabetes and its complications.
* Improve immune systems, particularly in people over age 65 - boosting antibodies by 65%.
* Lower chances of developing cataracts.
* Decrease the risk of colon cancer by 75%.
* Protect against the development of Parkinson's disease.
* Slow some Alzheimer's deterioration by 25%.
These are findings of numerous studies around the world - from the Mayo Clinic, National Cancer Institute, Harvard University and many others.
"We are enormously excited to discover that vitamin E really is as beneficial as we had all hoped," confirms Morris Brown, leader of the University of Cambridge antioxidant study.
Vitamin E is found naturally in vegetables, nuts, some fish - and soybeans.
Companies like ADM are extracting oil from soybeans and using it as a natural source of this powerful antioxidant.
It takes the oil portion of 1.5 billion bushels of soybeans to meet the production capacity of ADM's vitamin E plant.
Natural-source vitamin E is 36% more potent than its synthetic counterpart, say experts.
The recommended daily allowance (RDA) of vitamin E is 12 international units (IU) for women or 15 IU for men and pregnant or nursing women.
Health professionals generally agree that you get plenty of vitamins within a balanced diet. And, while most people do get enough vitamin E through foods to fulfill the RDA, that may not be enough.
"Vitamin E is a different story," advises Clare Hasler, executive director of the University of Illinois' Functional Foods for Health Program. "The amount that has been shown to be protective against heart disease is much higher than can be achieved by food."
Most researchers used doses of 50 IU or more to achieve their results. Trying to consume those levels through food alone would provide a diet too high in fats.
Supplements of 100-400 IU are commonly recommended. Before taking higher doses, consult your physician.