Vitamin E is important for the proper functioning of the body. It plays a critical role in promoting the immune system and acts as an antioxidant. It neutralizes free radicals that destroy cells. Vitamin E is fat-soluble, which means it’s dissolved in fat. As a result, it can be stored in the fatty tissues and liver. It can be found in vegetables, fruits, cereals, poultry, meat, and vegetable oils.
Vitamin E might help prevent and treat some diseases. Although vitamin E deficiency is uncommon in developed countries, premature babies and individuals with genetic disorders like abetalipoproteinemia may be at risk of vitamin E deficiency.[i]
Vitamin E is an antioxidant and is capable of fighting oxidative stress, which damages cells. Some researchers believe that this might prevent or slow certain age-related disorders like cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, and heart disease.[vii] Some of the health benefits linked to vitamin E intake include:
Cosmetic manufacturers often promote vitamin E as an anti-aging substance. Others have proposed that vitamin E might help heal scars through skin hydration, reduced inflammation that might cause tissue damage, and inhibit collagen production.[viii]
Cancer And Heart Disease
The belief that vitamin E might help reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease, is yet to be proven. A 2005 review that assessed more than 135,000 patient files found no relationship between vitamin E and the risk of cancer and heart disease.[ix]
Kidney And Liver Disease
Although vitamin E supplements cannot prevent or treat liver disease, they can significantly slow the progression. A 2015 study showed that an 800-UI vitamin E supplement significantly slowed down the rate of fibrosis among individuals with nonalcoholic steatohepatitis and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.[x] Also, vitamin E might be of great help in the treatment of chronic hepatitis B.
Nervous System Disorders
Vitamin E helps in the transmission of signals between neurons and the body. Because of this, vitamin E is believed to help in the treatment of some nervous system disorders such as epilepsy and Alzheimer’s disease.[xi]
Vitamin E is often prescribed in late pregnancy to help reduce risks of preeclampsia, a very devastating complication that’s usually caused by increased blood pressure.[xii]
Vitamin E Deficiency
As mentioned above, vitamin E deficiency is rare and typically a result of some underlying health condition. Lack of enough vitamin E can lead to some health problems like:
Vitamin E is important to the nervous system. As an antioxidant, vitamin E deficiency leads to oxidative stress, which might eventually cause muscle weakness.[ii]
Walking And Coordination Difficulties
A deficiency might cause some neurons, especially the Purkinje neurons, to shut down, adversely affecting the ability of the body to transmit signals.[iii]
Tingling And Numbness
Damage to the nerve fibers might prevent nerves from correctly transmitting signals, eventually resulting in sensations that are also referred to as peripheral neuropathy.
Immune System Problems
Some studies show that lack of enough vitamin E might affect the immune cells, especially in older adults.[iv]
Vitamin E deficiency might weaken the light receptors and other cells in your eyes. This might result in loss of vision.[v]
In premature newborns, excessive bleeding might occur in the brain, making the blood vessels in the newborn’s eyes grow abnormally, a disorder known as retinopathy of prematurity.[vi] Difficulties in coordination and muscle weakness are neurological symptoms that signify damage to the peripheral and central nervous system.
Possible Side Effects
If you stick to the recommended dose of vitamin E supplements, it’s highly unlikely you’ll experience any side effects. However, the same can’t be said if you take higher amounts exceeding 300 UI per day. For starters, taking over 300 UI of vitamin E every day increases your risk of hemorrhagic stroke by 22%.[xiii]
Nevertheless, even vitamin E doses lower than this might trigger some side effects such as diarrhea, stomach pain, vomiting, and nausea.[xiv] Vitamin E might slow blood clotting. As a result, people taking blood thinners such as Plavix (clopidogrel) and Coumadin (warfarin) should avoid vitamin E. It’s for the same reason you should not take vitamin E supplements at least two weeks before a surgical operation to prevent excessive bleeding.[xv]
People with a history of neck cancers, head cancer, bleeding disorders, stroke, or heart attack should keep vitamin E supplements.[xvi] Besides blood thinners, vitamin E supplements might interact with some medications, including tamoxifen, Lipitor (atorvastatin), certain chemotherapy medications, and immune suppressive medication Sandimmune (cyclosporine).[xvii]
Overall, vitamin E supplements are considered safe when breastfeeding and during pregnancy.[xviii] To avoid unforeseen side effects and interactions with other drugs, we recommend consulting a doctor before you start taking vitamin E supplements.
Dosage And Preparation
15milligrams per day of vitamin E supplements is considered safe. However, if the dose is being used to treat a deficiency, it can be increased to 60 mg to 70 mg every day. Anything above this amount should only be approached under the supervision of a health physician. Vitamin E dosing might be confusing because the products are packaged and labeled differently, including tolerable upper limit, recommended dietary allowance, milligrams, and international Units (IUs).
Where To Get Your Vitamin E?
You can get your vitamin E from food or supplements. We recommend getting your vitamin E from food instead of supplements. This is because vitamins work better if consumed alongside other nutrients and minerals. Furthermore, with foods, you also get more health benefits instead of vitamin E supplements which is just vitamin E.
Vitamin E Foods
The following foods are great sources of vitamin E.
- Shrimp – 3 ounces serving of shrimp contains 1.9 mg, which is about 13% RDA for vitamin E.
- Olive oil – A tablespoon has 1.9mg, which is about 13% of RDA for vitamin E
- Broccoli – One-cup serving has 2.3mg, which is about 15% of RDA for vitamin E
- Kiwi fruit – One-cup serving has 1.6 mg, which is about 18% of RDA for vitamin E
- Butternut squash – One-cup serving has 2.6mh which is about 18% of RDA for vitamin E
- Spinach – One-cup serving has 3.7 mg, which is about 25% of RDA for vitamin E
- Trout – An average trout has 4 mg, which is about 26% of RDA for vitamin E
- Avocados – An avocado has 4.2 mg, which is about 28% of RDA for vitamin E
- Almonds – One ounce has 7.4mg, which is about 49% of RDA for vitamin E
- Sunflower seeds – One ounce has 7.4 mg, which is about 49% of RDA for vitamin E
- Wheat germ oil – One tablespoon has 21.8 mg, about 135% of RDA for vitamin E.
Vitamin E supplements are often sold as gel caps. There are two types of vitamin E supplements found on the market shelves, including DI-alpha-tocopherol and D-alpha-tocopherol. Considering that vitamin supplements in the US aren’t subject to thorough testing like other pharmaceutical medications. As a result, the quality of the supplements you buy might vary from one brand to another.
When purchasing vitamin E supplements, choose brands that have been tested by independent bodies such as the NSF International, ConsumerLab, or Pharmacopeia (USP). Vitamin E supplements can fast degrade when exposed to direct sunlight or extreme heat. You can avoid this by storing your supplements away from direct sunlight. Vitamin E supplements are available in health food stores, online, and drug stores.
What are the main benefits of vitamin E?
What food is high in vitamin E?
• Green leafy vegetables – broccoli and spinach
• Seeds – sunflower seeds
• Nuts – Peanuts, almonds
• Vegetable oils – soybean oils, corn, safflower, sunflower, and wheat germ
• Peanut butter
Is vitamin E good sexually?
Should you take vitamin E every day?
What health problems are caused by vitamin E deficiency?
What oil is high in vitamin E?
• Palm oil – 14% RDA per serving
• Canola oil – 16% RDA per serving
• Grapeseed oil – 26% RDA per serving
• Rice bran oil – 29% RDA per serving
• Safflower oil – 31% RDA per serving
• Cottonseed oil – 32% RDA per serving
• Almond oil – 36% RDA per serving
• Sunflower oil – 37% RDA per serving
- [i] National Institutes of Health. Office of Dietary Supplements. Vitamin E Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. Updated February 28, 2020.
- [ii] Schuelke M. Ataxia with Vitamin E Deficiency. 2005 May 20 [Updated 2016 Oct 13]. In: Adam MP, Ardinger HH, Pagon RA, et al., editors. GeneReviews® [Internet]. Seattle (WA): University of Washington, Seattle; 1993-2021. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK1241/
- [iii] Ulatowski, L., Parker, R., Warrier, G., Sultana, R., Butterfield, D. A., & Manor, D. (2014). Vitamin E is essential for Purkinje neuron integrity. Neuroscience, 260, 120–129. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroscience.2013.12.001
- [iv] Pae, M., Meydani, S. N., & Wu, D. (2012). The role of nutrition in enhancing immunity in aging. Aging and disease, 3(1), 91–129.
- [v] Schuelke M. Ataxia with Vitamin E Deficiency. 2005 May 20 [Updated 2016 Oct 13]. In: Adam MP, Ardinger HH, Pagon RA, et al., editors. GeneReviews® [Internet]. Seattle (WA): University of Washington, Seattle; 1993-2021. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK1241/
- [vi] Bell, E. F., Hansen, N. I., Brion, L. P., Ehrenkranz, R. A., Kennedy, K. A., Walsh, M. C., Shankaran, S., Acarregui, M. J., Johnson, K. J., Hale, E. C., Messina, L. A., Crawford, M. M., Laptook, A. R., Goldberg, R. N., Van Meurs, K. P., Carlo, W. A., Poindexter, B. B., Faix, R. G., Carlton, D. P., Watterberg, K. L., … Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Neonatal Research Network (2013). Serum tocopherol levels in very preterm infants after a single dose of vitamin E at birth. Pediatrics, 132(6), e1626–e1633. https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2013-1684
- [vii] Ganceviciene R, Liakou AI, Theodoridis A, Makrantonaki E, Zouboulis CC. Skin anti-aging strategies. Dermatoendocrinol. 2012;4(3):308-319. doi:10.4161/derm.22804
- [viii] Baumann LS, Spencer J. The Effects of Topical Vitamin E on the Cosmetic Appearance of Scars. Dermatol Surg. 1999;25(4):311-315. doi:10.1046/j.1524-4725.1999.08223.x
- [ix] Miller ER, Pastor-Barriuso R, Dalal D, Riemersma RA, Appel LJ, Guallar E. Meta-Analysis: High-Dosage Vitamin E Supplementation May Increase All-Cause Mortality. Ann Intern Med. 2005;142(1):37-46. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-142-1-200501040-00110
- [x] Singh S, Khera R, Allen AM, Murad MH, Loomba R. Comparative effectiveness of pharmacological interventions for nonalcoholic steatohepatitis: A systematic review and network meta-analysis. Hepatology. 2015;62(5):1417-1432. doi:10.1002/hep.27999
- [xi] Boccardi V, Baroni M, Mangialasche F, Mecocci P. Vitamin E family: Role in the pathogenesis and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimers Dement (N Y). 2016;2(3):182-191. doi:10.1016/j.trci.2016.08.002
- [xii] Rumbold A, Ota E, Hori H, Miyazaki C, Crowther CA. Vitamin E supplementation in pregnancy. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2015;(9):CD004069. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD004069.pub3
- [xiii] Schürks M, Glynn RJ, Rist PM, Tzourio C, Kurth T. Effects of vitamin E on stroke subtypes: meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. BMJ. 2010;341:c5702. doi:10.1136/bmj.c5702
- [xiv] National Library of Medicine. National Center for Biotechnology Information. Vitamin E Compound Summary. Updated May 16, 2020.
- [xv] National Institutes of Health. Office of Dietary Supplements. Vitamin E Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. Updated February 28, 2020.
- [xvi] Saremi A, Arora R. Vitamin E and Cardiovascular Disease. Am J Ther. 2010;17(3):e56-65. doi:10.1097/MJT.0b013e31819cdc9a
- [xvii] Podszun M, Frank J. Vitamin E–drug interactions: molecular basis and clinical relevance. Nutrition Research Reviews. 2014;27(2):215-231. doi:10.1017/s0954422414000146
- [xviii] National Institutes of Health. Office of Dietary Supplements. Vitamin E Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. Updated February 28, 2020