Vitamin E « Health Now, Wealth Forever

Spread the love

By Gary, on May 31st, 2012

What is it?

Why do we need it?

How much do we need?

Are there positive effects on health?

Are there any side effects?

Where can it be found?

What is it?

According to the experts, Vitamin E is a fat-soluble nutrient found in many foods.

Why do we need it?

In the body it functions as an antioxidant, protecting cells from the damage from free radicals.  The body also uses Vitamin E in its immune system to fight invading bacteria and viruses.  It helps widen blood vessels and keeps blood from clotting.  Vitamin E also performs many other beneficial duties within the body.

How much do we need?

The amount of Vitamin E that you need depends upon your age.  NIH recommends the following daily amounts:

Life Stage

Recommended Amount

Birth to 6 months

4 mg (6 IU)

Infants 7-12 months

5 mg (7.5 IU)

Children 1-3 years

6 mg (9 IU)

Children 4-8 years

7 mg (10.4 IU)

Children 9-13 years

11 mg (16.4 IU)

Teens 14-18 years

15 mg (22.4 IU)


15 mg (22.4 IU)

Pregnant teens and women

15 mg (22.4 IU)

Breastfeeding teens and women

19 mg (28.4 IU)

It is generally agreed upon that our American diets do not provide the recommended amounts of Vitamin E.  However, Vitamin E deficiency is rare in healthy people but linked to certain diseases where fat is not properly digested or absorbed.  Some of these are Crohn’s disease, cystic fibrosis, and some rare genetic diseases.  The lack of Vitamin E in your body can cause nerve and muscle damage resulting in loss of feeling in arms and legs, loss of body control, muscle weakness, and some vision problems.  Some studies also show a weakened immune system when we have a Vitamin E deficiency.

Are there positive effects on health?

Many studies have been done on the effects Vitamin E has on our health.  Here are some.

Heart Disease – Vitamin E supplements do not appear to prevent heart disease, reduce its severity, or affect the risk of death from this disease.

Cancer – The results from studies are mixed at best on this one.  Some studies show that Vitamin E does not help in preventing cancer.  Some cases show that taking Vitamin E over several years increased the risk of developing prostate cancer in men.  Two studies that followed middle-aged men and women for seven or more years found that extra Vitamin E (300-400 IU/day) did not protect them from any form of cancer. However, one study found a link between the use of Vitamin E supplements for 10 years or more and a lower risk of death from bladder cancer.  You should consult your physician in this matter.

Eye Disorders – Vitamin E has not been shown to help older people with age-related macular degeneration (AMD) or with cataracts.  There is some promise of help in these areas of vision loss in people with early stage AMD using a supplement containing large doses of Vitamin E combined with other antioxidants, zinc, and copper.  This slowed the vision loss down but did not cure it.

Mental Function – Many studies have been done to see if Vitamin E helps older adults remain mentally alert as well as affect the decline of mental function and Alzheimer’s disease.  So far, there is no evidence that taking Vitamin E supplements has any effect on mental functions.

Are there any side effects?

It is generally agreed that eating Vitamin E in foods is not risky or harmful.

However, high doses of Vitamin E in supplement form might increase the risk of bleeding by reducing the blood’s ability to form clots after cuts or an injury.  Also any serious bleeding in the brain (known as hemorrhagic stroke) may be increased with a high dose of Vitamin E.

Vitamin E intake can also increase the risk of prostate cancer in men and increase the death in some adults with chronic health conditions.

The safe level of intake from supplements for adults is 1,500 IU/day for natural forms of Vitamin E and 1,100 IU/day for the synthetic form.  Please check the labels.

Vitamin E dietary supplements can interact or interfere with some medicines.  Some examples:

Increase risk of bleeding if you are taking anticoagulant medication or antiplatelet medication such as warfarin (Coumadin®).

Vitamin E shows some interference with cancer treatments such as chemotherapy or radiation.

Vitamin E, combined with other antioxidants (such as Vitamin C, selenium, and beta-carotene) reduced the heart protective effects of two drugs taken in combination to affect blood-cholesterol levels: a statin and niacin.

Where can it be found?

Vitamin E can be found in an abundance of foods, but high in these food sources:

Vegetable oils like wheat germ, sunflower, and safflower.

Corn and soybeans

Nuts (peanuts, hazelnuts, and especially almonds)

Seeds (sunflower)

Green vegetables (spinach, broccoli)

Breakfast cereals

Fruit juices

Margarines and spreads

Vitamin E can be in dietary supplements: two kinds

From natural food sources – listed as “d-alpha-tocopherol”

From synthetic – listed as “dl-alpha-tocopherol”

Note:  100 IU of natural Vitamin E is equal to 150 IU of synthetic Vitamin E.


This information should not take the place of medical advice.  Talk to your health care provider about your interest in, questions about, or use of dietary supplements and what may be best for your overall health.