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, stroke, irregular heart beat (atrial fibrillation), heart failure, leg pain due to blocked arteries, and high blood pressure.
Vitamin E is also used for treating diabetes and its complications, liver disease, kidney disease, Peyronie's disease (painful erection in men), and enlarged prostate (BPH). It is used for preventing cancer, particularly lung and oral cancer in smokers; colorectal cancer and polyps; and gastric, skin, bladder, breast, head and neck, prostate, and pancreatic cancers. Vitamin E is also used decrease side effects of chemotherapy.
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), for preventing preterm labor, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), benign breast disease, weak bones (osteoporosis), 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, age-related vision loss (age-related macular degeneration), asthma, respiratory infections, skin disorders, aging skin, sunburns, cystic fibrosis, infertility, impotence, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), neurodegenerative disease called Lou Gherig's disease (ALS), leg cramps, peptic ulcers, H pylori, swelling in the middle layer of the eye (uveitis), mouth sores (oral mucosal lesions), movement and coordination disorder called dyspraxia, kidney problems in children (glomerulosclerosis), movement disorder (ataxia) associated with vitamin E deficiency (AVED), rheumatoid arthritis, for certain inherited diseases and to prevent allergies. Finally, vitamin E is used for preventing death.
Some people apply vitamin E to their skin to keep it from aging, sunburn, scarring, lice, stretch marks, 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.
How it works
Vitamin E is an important vitamin required for the proper function of many organs in the body. It is also an antioxidant. This means it helps to slow down processes that damage cells.
EffectiveMovement disorder (ataxia) associated with vitamin E deficiency
The genetic movement disorder called ataxia causes severe vitamin E deficiency. Vitamin E supplements are used as part of the treatment for ataxia.
Taking vitamin E by mouth is effective for preventing and treating vitamin E deficiency.
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 22.4 IU
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 isPOSSIBLY SAFEfor pregnant women. There has been some concern that taking vitamin E supplements might be harmful to thefetuswhen 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.
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 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.
ModerateAntibiotics for Cancer (Antitumor Antibiotics)
Vitamin E is an antioxidant. There is some concern that antioxidants might decrease the effectiveness of antibiotic medication used for cancer. But it is too soon to know if the interaction occurs. Some antibiotics used for cancer include doxorubicin (Adriamycin), daunorubicin (DaunoXome), epirubicin (Ellence), mitomycin (Mutamycin), bleomycin (Blenoxane), and others.Cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune)
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).Medications for cancer (Alkylating agents)
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.Niacin
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.