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 Comprehensive Database 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 ischemic stroke.
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 298 IU daily is safe for children 1 to 3 years old. Less than 447 IU daily is safe for children 4 to 8 years old. Less than 894 IU daily is safe for children 9 to 13 years old. Less than 1192 IU 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.
Bleeding disorders: Vitamin E might make bleeding disorders worse. If you have a bleeding disorder, avoid taking vitamin E supplements.
Diabetes: Vitamin E might increase the risk for heart failure in people with diabetes. People with diabetes should avoid high doses of vitamin E.
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.
Liver disease: Vitamin E taken for 2 years or more can worsen insulin resistance when given with a liver disease called non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
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.
Weak bones (Osteoporosis): Exercise is sometimes used by people with osteoporosis to improve bone strength. Exercising and taking hHigh doses of vitamin E and vitamin C canmight slow the bone strengthening effects oflessen the benefits of exercise on bone strength.
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.
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.
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 vitamin E.
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.
Low levels of vitamin K (vitamin K deficiency): Vitamin E might worsen clotting problems in people whose levels of vitamin K are too low.
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. Low doses of vitamin E do not seem to have this effect. 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.
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