Vitamin E is a vitamin that dissolves in fat. It is found in many foods including vegetable oils, cereals, meat, poultry, eggs, fruits, vegetables, and wheat germ oil. It is also available as a supplement.
Vitamin E is used for treating vitamin E deficiency, which is rare, but can occur in people with certain genetic disorders and in very low-weight premature infants.
Some people use vitamin E for treating and preventing diseases of the heart and blood vessels including hardening of the arteries, heart attack, chest pain, leg pain due to blocked arteries, and high blood pressure.
Vitamin E is also used for treating diabetes and its complications. It is used for preventing cancer, particularly lung and oral cancer in smokers; colorectal cancer and polyps; and gastric, prostate, and pancreatic cancer.
Some people use vitamin E for diseases of the brain and nervous system including Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, Parkinson’s disease, night cramps, restless leg syndrome, and for epilepsy, along with other medications. Vitamin E is also used for Huntington’s chorea, and other disorders involving nerves and muscles.
Women use vitamin E for preventing complications in late pregnancy due to high blood pressure (pre-eclampsia), premenstrual syndrome (PMS), painful periods, menopausal syndrome, hot flashes associated with breast cancer, and breast cysts.
Sometimes vitamin E is used to lessen the harmful effects of medical treatments such as dialysis and radiation. It is also used to reduce unwanted side effects of drugs such as hair loss in people taking doxorubicin and lung damage in people taking amiodarone.
Vitamin E is sometimes used for improving physical endurance, increasing energy, reducing muscle damage after exercise, and improving muscle strength.
Vitamin E is also used for cataracts, asthma, respiratory infections, skin disorders, aging skin, sunburns, cystic fibrosis, infertility, impotence, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), peptic ulcers, for certain inherited diseases and to prevent allergies.
Some people apply vitamin E to their skin to keep it from aging and to protect against the skin effects of chemicals used for cancer therapy (chemotherapy).
The American Heart Association recommends obtaining antioxidants, including vitamin E, by eating a well-balanced diet high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains rather than from supplements until more is known about the risks and benefits of taking supplements.
Natural Medicines rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate.
The effectiveness ratings for VITAMIN E are as follows:
More evidence is needed to rate vitamin E for these uses.
Vitamin E is LIKELY SAFE for most healthy people
when taken by mouth or applied to the skin. Most people do not experience any
side effects when taking the recommended daily dose, which is 15 mg.
Vitamin E is POSSIBLY UNSAFE if taken by mouth in high doses.
If you have a condition such as heart disease or diabetes, do not take doses of
400 IU/day or more. Some research suggests that high doses might increase the
chance of death and possibly cause other serious side effects. The higher the
dose, the greater the risk of serious side effects.
There is some concern that vitamin E might increase the chance of having a
serious stroke called hemorrhagic stroke, which is bleeding into the brain.
Some research shows that taking vitamin E in doses of 300-800 IU each day might
increase the chance of this kind of stroke by 22%. However, in contrast,
vitamin E might decrease the chance of having a less severe stroke called an
There is contradictory information about the effect of vitamin E on the chance
of developing prostate cancer. Some research suggests that taking large amounts
of a multivitamin plus a separate vitamin E supplement might actually increase
the chance of developing prostate cancer in some men.
High doses can also cause nausea, diarrhea, stomach cramps, fatigue, weakness,
headache, blurred vision, rash, and bruising and bleeding.
Pregnancy: When used in the recommended daily amount,
vitamin E is POSSIBLY SAFE for pregnant women. There has been
some concern that taking vitamin E supplements might be harmful to the fetus when
taken in early pregnancy. However, it is too soon to know if this is an
important concern. Until more is known, do not take vitamin E supplements
during early pregnancy without talking with your healthcare provider.&
Breast-feeding: Vitamin E is LIKELY SAFE when taken by
mouth in recommended daily amounts during breast-feeding.
Infants and children: Vitamin E is LIKELY SAFE when
taken by mouth appropriately. The maximum amounts of vitamin E that are
considered safe for children are based on age. Less than 200 mg daily is safe
for children 1 to 3 years old. Less than 300 mg daily is safe for children 4 to
8 years old. Less than 600 mg daily is safe for children 9 to 13 years old.
Less than 800 mg daily is safe for children ages 14 to 18 years old. Vitamin E
(alpha-tocopherol) is POSSIBLY UNSAFE when given intravenously
(by IV) to premature infants in high doses.
Angioplasty, a heart procedure: Avoid taking supplements containing
vitamin E or other antioxidant vitamins (beta-carotene, vitamin C) immediately
before and following angioplasty without the supervision of a health care
professional. These vitamins seem to interfere with proper healing.
Diabetes: Vitamin E might increase the risk for heart failure in people
with diabetes. People with diabetes should avoid high doses of vitamin E.
Heart attack: Vitamin E might increase the risk for death in people with
a history of heart attack. People with a history of heart attack should avoid
high doses of vitamin E.
Low levels of vitamin K (vitamin K deficiency): Vitamin E might worsen
clotting problems in people whose levels of vitamin K are too low.
An eye condition called retinitis pigmentosa: All-rac-alpha-tocopherol
(synthetic vitamin E) 400 IU seems to speed vision loss in people with
retinitis pigmentosa. However, much lower amounts (3 IU) do not seem to produce
this effect. If you have this condition, it is best to avoid vitamin E.
Bleeding disorders: Vitamin E might make bleeding disorders worse. If
you have a bleeding disorder, avoid taking vitamin E supplements.
Head and neck cancer: Do not take vitamin E supplements in doses of 400
IU/day or more. Vitamin E might increase the chance that cancer will return.
Prostate cancer: There is concern that taking vitamin E might increase
the chance of developing prostate cancer. The effect of vitamin E in men who
currently have prostate cancer is not clear. However, in theory, taking vitamin
E supplements might worsen prostate cancer in men who already have it.
Stroke: Vitamin E might increase the risk for death in people with a
history of stroke. People with a history of stroke should avoid high doses of
Surgery: Vitamin E might increase the risk of bleeding during and after
surgery. Stop using vitamin E at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.
Interaction Rating = Moderate Be cautious with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.
Taking large amounts of vitamin E along with cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune) might increase how much cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune) the body absorbs. By increasing how much cyclosporine the body absorbs, vitamin E might increase the effects and side effects of cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune).
Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver. Vitamin E might increase how quickly the liver breaks down some medications. Taking vitamin E along with some medications that are broken down by the liver can decrease the effectiveness of some medications. Before taking vitamin E, talk to your healthcare provider if you are taking any medications that are changed by the liver.
Some medications changed by the liver include lovastatin (Mevacor), ketoconazole (Nizoral), itraconazole (Sporanox), fexofenadine (Allegra), triazolam (Halcion), and many others.
Vitamin E is an antioxidant. There is some concern that antioxidants might decrease the effectiveness of some medications used for cancers. But it is too soon to know if the interaction occurs.
Vitamin E might slow blood clotting. Taking vitamin E along with medications that also slow clotting might increase the chances of bruising and bleeding.
Some medications that slow blood clotting include aspirin, clopidogrel (Plavix), diclofenac (Voltaren, Cataflam, others), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others), naproxen (Anaprox, Naprosyn, others), dalteparin (Fragmin), enoxaparin (Lovenox), heparin, warfarin (Coumadin), and others.
Taking vitamin E, beta-carotene, vitamin C, and selenium together might decrease the effectiveness of some medications used for lowering cholesterol. It is not known if taking vitamin E alone decreases the effectiveness of some medications used for lowering cholesterol.
Some medications used for lowering cholesterol include atorvastatin (Lipitor), fluvastatin (Lescol), lovastatin (Mevacor), and pravastatin (Pravachol).
Taking vitamin E along with beta-carotene, vitamin C, and selenium might decrease some of the beneficial effects of niacin. Niacin can increase the good cholesterol. Taking vitamin E along with these other vitamins might decrease the good cholesterol.
Warfarin (Coumadin) is used to slow blood clotting. Vitamin E can also slow blood clotting. Taking vitamin E along with warfarin (Coumadin) can increase the chances of bruising and bleeding. Be sure to have your blood checked regularly. The dose of your warfarin (Coumadin) might need to be changed.
Some evidence suggests that vitamin E might reduce absorption of beta-carotene. The body needs beta-carotene to make vitamin A. Taking vitamin E 800 units daily seems to reduce blood levels of beta-carotene by 20%. Higher doses of vitamin E may reduce beta-carotene even more.
Vitamin E slows blood clotting. Using vitamin E along with other herbs and supplements that slow blood clotting could increase the risk of bleeding in some people. These herbs include angelica, asafoetida, clove, danshen, garlic, ginger, ginkgo, Panax ginseng, horse chestnut, meadowsweet, poplar, quassia, red clover, willow, and others.
There is a concern that large doses of vitamin E (>10 units/kg/day) might slow the uptake of iron supplements in severely anemic infants. Avoid high doses of vitamin E in infants. It isn't known whether this interaction occurs in adults.
Taking omega-6 fatty acids, especially in high doses, may increase the mount of vitamin E that the body needs.
Vitamin E may affect how vitamin A acts in the body.
Taking doses of vitamin E of 800 IU/day or more can decrease the effects of vitamin K. This might increase the risk of bleeding in people taking warfarin or other medicines that slow blood clotting. People with low vitamin K levels might be at especially high risk.
The body needs fat to be able to use vitamin E. However, it isn't necessary to increase dietary fat to make sure vitamin E can be used by the body.
Natural Medicines disclaims any
responsibility related to medical consequences of using any medical
product. Effort is made to ensure that the information contained in this
Natural Medicines monograph is accurate at the time it was published.
However, we cannot guarantee the information is error-free and disclaim
any liability or responsibility for any reliance on it. The information
is also not intended to be a substitute for medical or other
professional advice, and you should not use any product or substances
reference herein without consulting a medical professional. Consumers
and medical professionals who consult this Natural Medicines
monograph are cautioned that any medical or product related decision is
the sole responsibility of the consumer and/or the health care
professional. A legal License Agreement sets limitations on downloading,
storing, or printing content from Natural Medicines. Except for any possible exceptions written into your License Agreement, no reproduction of this monograph or any content from Natural Medicines is permitted without written permission from the publisher. Unlawful to download, store, or distribute content from Natural Medicines or this site.
For the latest comprehensive data on this and every other natural medicine, health professionals should consult the Professional Version of Natural Medicines. It is fully referenced and updated daily.
© Copyright 1995-2015 Therapeutic Research Center, publishers of Natural Medicines, Prescriber's Letter, and Pharmacist's Letter. All rights reserved.
Discover the different ways you can help
1-877 GO KOMEN(1-877-465-6636)
Give hope to others in your situation