advertisement



Supplements & Herbs


Print this page | Sign up for free e-bulletins
 | Bookmark This Page

Facts About Vitamin E

nuts cashews almonds bowl

What is vitamin E?
Vitamin E is a powerful, fat-soluble antioxidant that helps protect cell membranes against damage caused by free radicals and prevents the oxidation of LDL cholesterol. The term vitamin E encompasses a group of eight compounds, called tocopherols and tocotrienols, that comprise the vitamin complex as it is found in nature.

Why is vitamin E necessary?
Vitamin E is necessary for structural and functional maintenance of skeletal, cardiac, and smooth muscle. It also assists in the formation of red blood cells and helps to maintain stores of vitamins A and K, iron, and selenium. It may have a positive effect on immune health, protect against the oxidative damage that can lead to heart disease, have preventive effects against cancer, help relieve symptoms of Alzheimer's disease, and may help prevent some diabetes-related damage, particularly to the eyes.

What are the signs of a deficiency?
Vitamin E deficiency is rare in humans. People who cannot absorb dietary fat or who have rare disorders of fat metabolism cannot absorb vitamin E. Premature or very low birth weight infants and individuals with rare genetic abnormalities in the alpha-tocopherol transfer protein may also be at risk. Symptoms include greasy stools, chronic diarrhea and an inability to secrete bile.

How much, and what kind, does an adult need?
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the U.S. Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for adults older than 14-years is 15 mg (or 22.5 IU); pregnant women of any age should get 15 mg (or 22.5 IU); and breastfeeding women of any age should take 19 mg (or 28.5 IU).

Dr. Weil recommends supplementing with vitamin E that provides a minimum daily dose of 80 mg of the whole complex, including mixed tocopherols and mixed tocotrienols. It should provide at least 10 mg of tocotrienols. If you can't find that, look for a product with mixed natural tocopherols (400 to 800 IU daily). Avoid dl-alpha-tocopherol, the synthetic form.

How much does a child need?
The NIH's RDA and Adequate Intake (AI):

  • children 1-3 years, 6 mg/day (9 IU/day)
  • children 4-8 years, 7 mg/day (10.5 IU/day)
  • children 9-13 years, 11 mg/day (16.5 IU/day).

How do you get enough vitamin E from foods?
Good food sources of vitamin E include vegetable oils, avocados, spinach, sunflower seeds, wheat germ, nuts, and whole grains.

Are there any risks associated with too much vitamin E?
Except for an anticoagulant effect, vitamin E has no known toxicity or side effects. Vitamin E in very high doses may interfere with the body's ability to clot blood, posing a risk to people already taking prescribed blood thinners.

Are there any other special considerations?

  • Because vitamin E is fat-soluble, it's best absorbed when taken with a meal containing some fat.
  • Vitamin E loses its potency when exposed to air, heat, and light, so supplements should be stored in a dark, cool place.
  • People who are taking anticoagulants (blood thinners or aspirin) should take vitamin E supplements only under physician supervision.
  • If you are taking statins, do not exceed 800 IU of vitamin E because it can dramatically reduce the benefits of some cholesterol drugs.
  • Adverse effects may also occur when taking vitamin E and chemotherapy drugs, or mineral oil.
  • Vitamin E absorption may be altered when taking the pharmaceuticals Cholestyramine, Colestipol and Orlistat.
  • Levels of vitamin E may be affected by seizure medications, zinc and fish oils.
  • High doses of vitamin E may increase the body's vitamin K requirement, and increased intake of omega-6 fatty acids may increase vitamin E requirements.

Updated by: Andrew Weil, M.D., and Brian Becker, M.D., on Oct. 29th, 2012


advertisement

Are you getting the supplements you need?
Everyone's dietary needs are different based on a number of factors including lifestyle, diet, medications and more. To find out which supplements are right for you, take the Weil Vitamin Advisor. This 3-step questionnaire requires just minutes to complete, and generates a free, no-obligation vitamin and nutritional supplement recommendation that is personalized to meet your unique nutritional needs.

The Weil Vitamin Advisor
Get your FREE personalized vitamin recommendation & supplement plan today!

Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging
Your Online Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet. Start eating for your health - begin your free trial now.

Dr. Weil's Spontaneous Happiness
Achieve emotional well-being
in just eight weeks!
Start your 10-day free trial now!

Vitamin Library
Supplement your knowledge with Dr. Weil's essential vitamin facts. Learn why they are necessary and more.

Dr. Weil's Optimum Health Plan
Your 8-week plan to wellness.
Begin your journey today!
 

Dr. Weil's Head-to-Toe
Wellness Guide

Your guide to natural health.
Use the Wellness Guide today!

Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Diet Food Pyramid
Our interactive tool can help improve overall health through diet.

Condition Care Guide
Learn about health conditions from acne to vertigo, and Dr. Weil's view of the best treatment options for each.

Healthy Recipes
Discover a treasure trove of healthy, healing foods and creative, delicious ways to prepare them.

Q&A Library
Over 2,000 questions from you
and their corresponding answers
from Dr. Weil.

 
Copyright © 2014 Weil Lifestyle, LLC
Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment.

Ad Choice
Advertising Notice

This Site and third parties who place advertisements on this Site may collect and use information about your visits to this Site and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like to obtain more information about these advertising practices and to make choices about online behavioral advertising, please click here