Uses of Vitamin E

What is Vitamin E?

Vitamin E is a group of eight fat-soluble compounds that include four tocopherols and four tocotrienols. Vitamin E deficiency, which is rare and usually due to an underlying problem with digesting dietary fat rather than from a diet low in vitamin E, can cause nerve problems.

Benefits of Vitamin E

Vitamin E (also known as tocopherol or alpha-tocopherol) is a nutrient that is important for many body processes.

1. Vitamin E also has antioxidant properties.

Antioxidants are substances that might protect your cells against the effects of free radicals — molecules produced when your body breaks down food or is exposed to tobacco smoke and radiation.

Free radicals might play a role in heart disease, cancer, and other diseases. If you take vitamin E for its antioxidant properties, keep in mind that the supplement might not offer the same benefits as naturally occurring antioxidants in food.

2. May ease osteoarthritis symptoms

Osteoarthritis is a chronic condition that involves the degeneration of joints that results in pain and stiffness.

One small study from 2017 found that individuals with late-stage knee osteoarthritis who were given 400 IU of vitamin E once a day for 2 months had improved clinical symptoms and reduced oxidative stress conditions.

3. May help manage diabetes

Diabetes is another chronic condition that involves insulin resistance and is connected to increased oxidative stress in the body.

There have been many studies involving vitamin E supplementation and diabetes (types 1 and 2), and there does seem to be evidence that vitamin E may help delay the onset of the disease and ease the symptoms.

As a meta-analysis from 2018 concludes: Vitamin E may be a valuable strategy for controlling diabetes complications, but more studies must be done before anything definitive can be stated.4. Beneficial for your skin

Vitamin E is a common ingredient in cosmetics for mature-looking skin and is often used in products created for wound healing.

Because vitamin E helps protect the body against oxidative stress, it may help protect the skin from environmental stressors. While some studies have shown that topical vitamin E may have photo protective properties (meaning it can help protect against skin damage caused by sunlight), there isn’t strong evidence for its wound-healing effects.

More controlled trials that suggest dosages and reasoning for oral application versus topical are needed before conclusions regarding how beneficial vitamin E is for the skin.

4. Beneficial for your skin

Vitamin E is a common ingredient in cosmetics for mature-looking skin and is often used in products created for wound healing.

Because vitamin E helps protect the body against oxidative stress, it may help protect the skin from environmental stressors. While some studies have shown that topical vitamin E may have photo protective properties (meaning it can help protect against skin damage caused by sunlight), there isn’t strong evidence for its wound-healing effects.

More controlled trials that suggest dosages and reasoning for oral application versus topical are needed before conclusions regarding how beneficial vitamin E is for the skin.

5. Age-related eye disorders

Oxidative stress plays a role in eye disorders, like cataracts, that can become more prevalent as we age. While some studies have suggested a potential relationship between vitamin E supplements and a lessened chance of the formation of cataracts, there is not currently enough evidence to provide definitive conclusions.

6. Cancer

If free radicals in the body are left unchecked, they can create cancer. When it comes to the antioxidant of vitamin E for cancer prevention, the evidence is a little too uneven at this point to support taking vitamin E to prevent cancer.

Also, large doses of vitamin E supplements have been shown to possibly increase the risk of prostate cancer.

7. Cognitive decline

Over time, free-radical damage to neurons in the brain can contribute to cognitive decline and neurodegenerative diseases, so it makes sense that researchers would want to know if an antioxidant like vitamin E could provide protective benefits.

Research in this area is limited. There have been both positive results and results that suggest no clear benefit of vitamin E supplementation on cognitive decline, so more studies need to be done.

8. Coronary heart disease

While some small studies have suggested an association between lowered rates of heart disease with higher levels of vitamin E, additional clinical trials on mostly middle-aged individuals have not provided evidence that vitamin E supplementation prevents cardiovascular disease or reduces its severity or mortality.

Evidence

Research on vitamin E use for specific conditions shows:

  • Alzheimer’s disease. Some research has shown that high-dose vitamin E might delay the progression of Alzheimer’s disease in people who have been diagnosed with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease. Other studies haven’t shown this benefit. Vitamin E supplements appear to have no effect on whether people with mild cognitive impairment progress to Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Liver disease. Studies show that vitamin E might improve symptoms of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. However, some evidence suggests that taking oral vitamin E for this purpose for two years is linked to insulin resistance.
  • Preeclampsia. Increasing your intake of vitamin E hasn’t been shown to prevent this pregnancy condition that affects blood pressure.
  • Prostate cancer. Research shows that vitamin E and selenium supplements don’t prevent prostate cancer. There is also concern the use of vitamin E supplements might increase the risk of prostate cancer.

Food Sources of Vitamin E

Numerous foods provide vitamin E. Nuts, seeds, eggs, and vegetable oils are among the best sources of alpha-tocopherol, and significant amounts are available in green leafy vegetables and fortified cereals. Most vitamin E in American diets is in the form of gamma-tocopherol from soybean, canola, corn, and other vegetable oils and food products.

Foods rich in vitamin E include canola oil, olive oil, margarine, almonds, and peanuts. You can also get vitamin E from meats, dairy, leafy greens, and fortified cereals. Vitamin E is also available as an oral supplement in capsules or drops.

Vitamin E dietary supplements

Vitamin E supplements come in different amounts and forms. Two main things to consider when choosing a vitamin E supplement are:

  1. The amount of vitamin E: Most once-daily multivitamin-mineral supplements provide about 13.5 mg of vitamin E, whereas vitamin E-only supplements commonly contain 67 mg or more. The doses in most vitamin E-only supplements are much higher than the recommended amounts. Some people take large doses because they believe or hope that doing so will keep them healthy or lower their risk of certain diseases.
  2. The form of vitamin E: Although vitamin E sounds like a single substance, it is actually the name of eight related compounds in food, including alpha-tocopherol. Each form has a different potency or level of activity in the body.

How much vitamin E do you need?

The amount of vitamin E you need is:

4mg a day for men

3mg a day for women

You should be able to get all the vitamin E you need from your diet. Any vitamin E your body does not need immediately is stored for future use, so you do not need it in your diet every day.

The amount of vitamin E you need each day depends on your age. Average daily recommended amounts are listed below in milligrams (mg).

Life Stage Recommended Amount
Birth to 6 months 4 mg
Infants 7–12 months 5 mg
Children 1–3 years 6 mg
Children 4–8 years 7 mg
Children 9–13 years 11 mg
Teens 14–18 years 15 mg
Adults 15 mg
Pregnant teens and women 15 mg
Breastfeeding teens and women 19 mg

The risks of taking vitamin E

The risks and benefits of taking vitamin E are still unclear. Research has linked the use of vitamin E to an increase in hemorrhagic stroke.

In addition, an analysis of clinical trials found patients who took either synthetic vitamin E or natural vitamin E in doses of 400 IU per day — or higher — had an increased risk of dying from all causes, which seems to increase even more at higher doses.

Cardiovascular studies also suggest that patients with diabetes or cardiovascular disease who take natural vitamin E at 400 IU per day have an increased risk of heart failure and heart failure-related hospitalization.

Vitamin E Supplements

Vitamin E supplements might be harmful when taken in early pregnancy. One study found that women who took vitamin E supplementation during the first 8 weeks of pregnancy had a 1.7 to nine-fold increase in congenital heart defects. The exact amount of vitamin E supplements used by pregnant women in this study is unknown.

A large population study showed that men using a multivitamin more than seven times per week in conjunction with a separate vitamin E supplement actually had a significantly increased risk of developing prostate cancer.

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. If you are considering taking a vitamin E supplement, talk to your health care provider first to see if it is right for you.

When inhaled in a vaping product vitamin E acetate may be responsible for e-cigarette or vaping, product-use associated lung injury (EVALI).

The side effects of taking vitamin E.

Topical vitamin E can irritate the skin.

Overdoses of vitamin E supplements can cause nausea, headache, bleeding, fatigue, and other symptoms.

People who take blood thinners or other medicines should not take vitamin E supplements without first talking to their healthcare provider.

Interactions

The use of some drugs can affect your vitamin E levels. Possible interactions include:

  • Alkylating agents and anti-tumor antibiotics. There’s concern that high doses of vitamin E might affect the use of these chemotherapy drugs.
  • Anticoagulants and anti-platelet drugs, herbs, and supplements. The use of vitamin E with these drugs, herbs, and supplements to reduce blood clotting might increase the risk of bleeding.
  • Cytochrome P450 3A4 (CYP3A4) substrates. Use caution when taking vitamin E and other drugs affected by these enzymes, such as omeprazole (Prilosec, Zegerid).
  • Statins and niacin. Taking vitamin E with statins or niacin, which might benefit people with high cholesterol, could reduce niacin’s effect.
  • Vitamin K. Taking vitamin E with vitamin K might decrease the effects of vitamin K.

Summary

Vitamin E is a nutrient that the body needs in small amounts to stay healthy and work the way it should. It is fat-soluble (can dissolve in fats and oils) and is found in seeds, nuts, leafy green vegetables, and vegetable oils.

Vitamin E boosts the immune system and helps keep blood clots from forming.

Vitamin E deficiency can cause nerve pain (neuropathy).

Most people get enough vitamin E through diet, but supplements do exist. Nonetheless, many supplements are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the same way as most pharmaceuticals, and only one form of vitamin E has proven beneficial for humans (alpha-tocopherol).

There may be some side effects to ingesting too much vitamin E over a longer period of time, and vitamin E can interact with certain medications.

If you’re considering adding more vitamin E to your diet, talk with your doctor first about your specific health concerns.

The recommended daily amount of vitamin E for adults is 15 milligrams a day.

Please let us know in the comments below:

1. What are your favorite types of Vitamin E foods?

2. Do you take Vitamin E supplements? If so, what kind? If not, why not?

3. What health benefits do you get from eating your favorite Vitamin E food?

Disclaimer

Information on this site is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. We encourage you to do your own research. Seek the advice of a medical professional before making any changes to your lifestyle or diet.

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References:

https://www.healthline.com/health/all-about-vitamin-e

https://www.webmd.com/diet/supplement-guide-vitamin-e#2

https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminE-HealthProfessional/

https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements-vitamin-e/art-20364144

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