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Why Do You Need to Take Vitamin E?

Why Do You Need to Take Vitamin E?


Why do you need to take vitamin E?


Why do you need to take vitamin E?


Vitamin E is fat soluble vitamin with antioxidant qualities and it is found in a wide variety of foods and supplements. Vitamin E is a vital nutrient for good health. It may help protect your cells from damage. Vitamin E as an antioxidant reacts with reactive oxygen species. It also helps support the immune system, cell function, and skin health. The best way to consume this vitamin is through a healthy diet.

Different type of vitamin E

Vitamin E of natural origin exists in eight different forms, including (alpha-, beta-, gamma-, and delta-tocopherol and alpha-, beta-, gamma-, and delta-tocotrienol). Alpha- (α-) tocopherol is the only form that is recognized to meet human requirements.[1]

Vitamin E is fat soluble which means any excess is stored in the body’s fat tissue and liver. The liver is the master regulator of the body’s vitamin E levels in that it not only controls alpha-tocopherol concentrations, but also appears to be the major site of vitamin E metabolism and excretion.[2]

The human diet contains eight different vitamin E-related molecules synthesized by plants; despite the fact that all of these molecules are peroxyl radical scavengers, the human body prefers α-tocopherol.[3] α-Tocopherol serves as a peroxyl radical scavenger that protects polyunsaturated fatty acids in membranes and lipoproteins. [4]

How much vitamin E do you need?

According to the NIH Average daily recommended amount of vitamin E for infants up to age 6 months, is 4 mg, and the RDA is 5 mg for ages 6 months to one year. From ages 1 to 3 years old the RDA is 7 mg. From 4 to 8 years old is 8 mg. For 9 to 13 years old and for 14+ years old the RDAs for vitamin E are 11mg and 15 mg, respectively.

Some food and dietary supplement labels still list vitamin E in International Units (IUs) rather than mg. 1 IU of the natural form of vitamin E is equivalent to 0.67 mg. 1 IU of the synthetic form of vitamin E is equivalent to 0.45 mg.

Natural vs Synthetic Vitamin E

Natural Vitamin E on a supplement label is listed as d-alpha-tocopherol or alpha tocopheryl acetate. Synthetic vitamin E is listed as dl-alpha-tocopherol. The natural form is more potent. 1 mg of natural vitamin E is equivalent to 2 mg of synthetic vitamin E.

Naturally sourced vitamin E is called RRR-alpha-tocopherol (commonly labeled as d-alpha-tocopherol); the synthetically produced form is all rac-alpha-tocopherol (commonly labeled as dl-alpha-tocopherol).

Sources of vitamin E

Vitamin E is found naturally in foods and is added to some fortified foods. According to NIH you can find vitamin E in a variety of foods including the following:

  • Why do you need to take vitamin E?Vegetable oils like wheat germ, sunflower, safflower oils, Corn and soybean oils
  • Nuts (such as peanuts, hazelnuts, and, especially, almonds) and seeds (like           sunflower seeds)

Green vegetables, such as spinach and broccoli

Benefits of vitamin E

The inclusion of sources of vitamin E in your diet brings many benefits. It might help prevent or delay the chronic diseases associated with free radicals. According to NIH vitamin E as a fat-soluble antioxidant can stop the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) formed when fat undergoes oxidation.

Age-Related Eye Disease Study ( AREDS), sponsored by the National Eye Institute showed that a 400 IU/day intake of vitamin E, taken with beta-carotene, vitamin C and zinc supplementation, slows the progression of AMD by about 25 percent in individuals at high risk for the disease.

The association of antioxidant nutrients and risk of nuclear opacification in the Longitudinal Study of Cataract has shown that in regular users of multivitamin supplements, the risk of nuclear opacification was reduced by one third; in regular users of vitamin E supplements and persons with higher plasma levels of vitamin E, the risk was reduced by approximately half.[8]

A 2018 study showed that vitamin E enhance immune responses in animal and human models and to confer protection against several infectious diseases.[9]

According to a 2013 study vitamin E has been shown to be cardioprotective in certain patient subgroups under high levels of oxidative stress such as those individuals on hemodialysis (SPACE) or in diabetic individuals with the Hp 2-2 genotype (ICARE). [10]

Vitamin E is normally provided to the skin through the sebum (oily substance secreted by mammals that coats the outer layer of the skin). According a 2012 study published by Oregon State University, Topical application can also supply the skin with vitamin E and may provide specific vitamin E forms that are not available from the diet. Vitamin E can also absorb the energy from ultraviolet (UV) light. Thus, it plays important roles in photoprotection, preventing UV-induced free radical damage to skin. It may also have related anti-inflammatory roles in the skin.

Also a 2015 study showed that there is a positive association between dietary vitamin E intake and lung function, and evidence of an inverse relationship between serum levels of γ-tocopherol and lung function.[12]

Vitamin E helps strengthen muscles. Scientists have shown that without vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant, the plasma membrane, which essentially prevents a cell from spilling its contents and controls what goes in and out, cannot heal properly.

“ when another lipid-directed antioxidant, glutathione peroxidase 4 (Gpx4), is genetically deleted in mouse embryonic fibroblasts, repair fails catastrophically, unless cells are supplemented with Vitamin E. lipid-directed antioxidant activity provided by Vitamin E, and possibly also Gpx4, is an essential component of the membrane repair mechanism in skeletal muscle. This work explains why Vitamin E is essential to muscle health and identifies Vitamin E as a requisite component of the plasma membrane repair mechanism in vivo.”[13]

According to a 2012 study vitamin E has beneficial effects on serum vitamin E, blood pressure and blood glucose in type 2 diabetic patients.[14]

Vitamin E deficiency

Vitamin E deficiency is very rare in healthy people. In order to absorb vitamin E some dietary fat is required, so people who have problems absorbing fat, such as those with liver or pancreas problems, Crohn’s disease, Cystic fibrosis can be prone to Vitamin E deficiency.

Vitamin E deficiency can cause nerve and muscle damage that results in loss of feeling in the arms and legs, loss of body movement control, muscle weakness, and vision problems. Another sign of deficiency is a weakened immune system.

A 2014 study[15] by researchers found that vitamin E due to its antioxidant properties have the ability to prevent or delay cognitive decline in in clinical trials in ageing population and Alzheimer’s disease (AD) patients.

Side effects of excess vitamin E

Eating vitamin E in foods is not risky or harmful. Oral use of vitamin E at appropriate doses in supplement form is generally considered safe. However, high doses of vitamin E might increase the risk of bleeding. According to NIH because of this risk, the upper limit for adults is 1,100 mg/day for supplements of either natural or synthetic vitamin E. This is equal to 1,500 IU/day for natural vitamin E supplements and 1,100 IU/day for synthetic supplements.

A 2014 study approved that the dietary supplementation with Vitamin E significantly increases the risk of prostate cancer among healthy men.[16]

Precaution :

We recommend that you speak to your health care providers (doctor, registered dietitian, pharmacist, etc.) about your interest, questions or use of supplements, and what may be best for your overall health. They can tell you if dietary supplements can interact or interfere with your prescription or over-the-counter medications, or if the medications can interfere with the way your body absorbs, uses, or breaks down nutrients.


[1]Traber MG. Vitamin E. In: Shils ME, Shike M, Ross AC, Caballero B, Cousins R, eds. Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease. 10th ed. Baltimore, MD: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2006;396-411

[2] Traber MG. Vitamin E regulatory mechanisms. Annu Rev Nutr 2007;27:347-62. [PubMed abstract

[3]Traber MG. Vitamin E. In: Shils ME, Shike M, Ross AC, Caballero B, Cousins R, eds. Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease. 10th ed. Baltimore, MD: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2006;396-411

[4]Traber MG. Vitamin E. In: Shils ME, Shike M, Ross AC, Caballero B, Cousins R, eds. Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease. 10th ed. Baltimore, MD: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2006;396-411.

[8] Leske MC, Chylack LT Jr, He Q, Wu SY, Schoenfeld E, Friend J, et al. Antioxidant vitamins and nuclear opacities: the longitudinal study of cataract. Ophthalmology 1998;105:831-6. [PubMed abstract]

[9]Ga Young Lee and Sung Nim Han The Role of Vitamin E in Immunity Published online 2018 Nov 1. doi: 10.3390/nu10111614 PMID: 30388871

[10] Moshe Vardi, Nina S. Levy, and Andrew P. Levy Vitamin E in the prevention of cardiovascular disease: the importance of proper patient selection. doi: 10.1194/jlr.R026641 PMCID: PMC3735930

[12]Corrine Hanson, PhD, RD, Elizabeth Lyden, MS, Jeremy Furtado, DSc, Hannia Campos, PhD, David Sparrow, DSc, Pantel Vokonas, MD, and Augusto A. Litonjua, MD, MPH Serum Tocopherol Levels and Vitamin E Intake are Associated with Lung Function in the Normative Aging Study. 2015 Feb 7. doi: 10.1016/j.clnu.2015.01.020 PMCID: PMC4529394

[13]MohamedLabazi , Anna K.McNeil ,TimothyKurtz ,Taylor C.Lee Ronald B.Pegg , José Pedro FriedmannAngeli,,MarcusConrad, , Paul L.McNeil The antioxidant requirement for plasma membrane repair in skeletal muscle2015

[14] Maryam Rafraf, Behnaz Bazyun, Mohammad Ali Sarabchian, Abdolrasoul Safaeiyan, and Seyed Jamal Ghaemmaghami Hezaveh Impact of Vitamin E Supplementation on Blood Pressure and Hs-CRP in Type 2 Diabetic Patients | doi: 10.5681/hpp.2012.009 – PMCID: PMC3963652

[15]Giorgio La Fata, Peter Weber, and M. Hasan Mohajeri . Effects of Vitamin E on Cognitive Performance during Ageing and in Alzheimer’s Disease Published online 2014 Nov 28. doi: 10.3390/nu6125453

[16] Vitamin E and the Risk of Prostate Cancer: Updated Results of The Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial (SELECT) JAMA. 2011 Oct 12; 306(14): 1549–1556. doi: 10.1001/jama.2011.1437 PMCID: PMC4169010

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