Side effects of taking too much Vitamin E

VITAMIN E

Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin with several forms, but alpha-tocopherol is the only one used by the human body. Its main role is to act as an antioxidant, scavenging loose electrons—so-called “free radicals”—that can damage cells. [1] It also enhances immune function and prevents clots from forming in heart arteries. But it causes, Side effects when taking too much Vitamin E.

OTHER NAME(S): 

Acétate d’Alpha Tocophérol, Acétate d’Alpha Tocophéryl, Acétate de D-Alpha-Tocophéryl, Acétate de DL-Alpha-Tocophéryl.

Side Effects & Safety

When taken by mouth

Vitamin E is LIKELY SAFE for most healthy people when taken by mouth. 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.

When applied to the skin

Vitamin E is LIKELY SAFE for most healthy people when applied to the skin. While rare, applying vitamin E to the skin has caused itching and swelling in some people.

When inhaled

Vitamin E is POSSIBLY UNSAFE when inhaled. Use of e-cigarettes and other vaping products containing vitamin E as vitamin E acetate has been linked to serious lung injury in some people.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

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.

A procedure to open a blocked or narrowed blood vessel (angioplasty)

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 and brittle bones (osteoporosis)

Exercise is sometimes used by people with osteoporosis to improve bone strength. Exercising and taking high doses of vitamin E and vitamin C might lessen 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 isn’t clear. However, in theory, taking vitamin E supplements might worsen prostate cancer in men who already have it.

An inherited eye condition that causes poor night vision and loss of side vision (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 supplements.

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.

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Top 10 foods rich in vitamin E

Vitamin E is a fat-soluble compound with antioxidant properties. Getting enough vitamin E is essential for the immune system, blood vessel health, and keeping the skin youthful. Top 10 foods rich in vitamin E are mentioned below:

There are eight distinct forms of vitamin E, but researchers believe that only one type, alpha-tocopherol, helps meet human nutritional needs.

Plenty of foods contain vitamin E, which means many people get enough of the vitamin naturally through their diet.

Nuts, seeds, and some oils tend to contain the most vitamin E per serving. Some dark green vegetables, a few fruits, and some types of seafood also contain vitamin E.

Many manufacturers now fortify cereals and meal replacements with vitamin E.

In this article, learn about which foods are high in vitamin E, as well as the health benefits of this essential vitamin.

1. Sunflower seeds

Sunflower seeds make an excellent snack. People can also sprinkle them on yogurt, oatmeal, or salad. A 100-gram (g) serving of sunflower seeds contains 35.17 milligrams (mg) of vitamin E.

Sunflower seeds are packed with a variety of nutrients and can help a person get enough fiber to keep their digestive system healthy. A 100 g serving contains:

  • 8.6 g fiber
  • 20.78 g protein
  • 645 mg potassium
  • 325 mg magnesium
  • 5 mg zinc

2. Almonds

For every 100 g serving of almonds, there is 25.63 mg of vitamin E. People can snack on roasted almonds, add them to cereal and baked goods, or drink almond milk.

Almonds also contain:

  • 21.15 g protein
  • 12.5 g fiber
  • 733 mg potassium
  • 270 mg magnesium

3. Peanuts

Peanuts are a popular snack. There is 4.93 mg of vitamin E in a 100 g serving of dry-roasted peanuts.

People should be sure to buy plain, dry-roasted peanuts rather than those with extra salt and flavorings.

The same size serving also contains:

  • 24.35 g protein
  • 8.4 g fiber
  • 634 mg potassium
  • 14.355 mg niacin

4. Some oils

Some oils are very high in vitamin E, although aside from fat and calories, most contain little else in the way of nutrition.

A tablespoon of the following oils contains:

5. Avocados

Avocados are a versatile fruit that contain very little sugar and plenty of nutrients. In 100 g of avocado, there is 2.07 mg of vitamin E.

The same size serving also contains 10 mg of vitamin C, making it a healthful addition to many meals and snacks. Avocado also contains more potassium than bananas.

6. Spinach

A 100g serving of raw spinach contains 2.03 mg of vitamin E.

The same serving also contains:

  • 9377 international units (IU) vitamin A
  • 28.1 mg vitamin C
  • 2.2 g fiber
  • 558 mg potassium

7. Swiss chard

Swiss chard is a dark green leafy vegetable that contains 1.89 mg of vitamin E in a 100 g serving.

Like many leafy greens, Swiss chard contains a range of additional nutrients, including:

  • 6116 IU vitamin A
  • 81 mg magnesium
  • 30 mg vitamin C
  • 1.80 mg iron
  • 379 mg potassium
  • 1.6 g fiber

8. Butternut squash

Butternut squash is a tasty vegetable common in many fall and winter dishes. There is 1.29 mg of vitamin E in 100 g of baked butternut squash.

The same size serving also contains plenty of other vitamins and nutrients, including:

  • 11155 IU vitamin A
  • 15.1 mg vitamin C
  • 3.2 g fiber
  • 284 mg of potassium

9. Beet greens

While many people are familiar with the taste of beetroot, not everyone knows that it is possible to eat the “greens” or leaves. People can use beet greens in salads or sauté them in oil.

A 100 g serving of cooked beet greens contains 1.81 mg of vitamin E.

Beet greens contain many additional nutrients, including:

  • 7654 IU vitamin A
  • 24.9 mg vitamin C
  • 909 mg potassium
  • 2.9 g fiber
  • 1.90 mg iron
  • 114 mg calcium

10. Trout

A 100 g serving of trout contains 2.15 mg of vitamin E.

Trout is also high in healthful omega-3 fatty acids, and the same size serving contains 21.11 g of protein.

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Vitamin E Food Sources and Deficiency Symptoms

Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin with several forms, but alpha-tocopherol is the only one used by the human body. Its main role is to act as an antioxidant, scavenging loose electrons—so-called “free radicals”—that can damage cells. [1] It also enhances immune function and prevents clots from forming in heart arteries. Antioxidant vitamins, including vitamin E, came to public attention in the 1980s when scientists began to understand that free radical damage was involved in the early stages of artery-clogging atherosclerosis, and might also contribute to cancer, vision loss, and a host of other chronic conditions. Vitamin E has the ability to protect cells from free radical damage as well as stop the production of free radical cells entirely. However, conflicting study results have dimmed some of the promise of using high dose vitamin E to prevent chronic diseases. Vitamin E Food Sources and Deficiency Symptoms

Recommended Amounts

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for vitamin E for males and females ages 14 years and older is 15 mg daily (or 22 international units, IU), including women who are pregnant. Lactating women need slightly more at 19 mg (28 IU) daily.

Vitamin E and Health

Heart diseaseCancerAge-related vision diseasesCognitive function and neurodegenerative diseases

Food Sources

Vitamin E is found in plant-based oils, nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables.

  • Wheat germ oil
  • Sunflower, safflower, and soybean oil
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Almonds
  • Peanuts, peanut butter
  • Beet greens, collard greens, spinach
  • Pumpkin
  • Red bell pepper
  • Asparagus
  • Mango
  • Avocado

Signs of Deficiency

Because vitamin E is found in a variety of foods and supplements, a deficiency in the U.S. is rare. People who have digestive disorders or do not absorb fat properly (e.g., pancreatitis, cystic fibrosis, celiac disease) can develop a vitamin E deficiency. The following are common signs of a deficiency:

  • Retinopathy (damage to the retina of the eyes that can impair vision)
  • Peripheral neuropathy (damage to the peripheral nerves, usually in the hands or feet, causing weakness or pain)
  • Ataxia (loss of control of body movements)
  • Decreased immune function

Toxicity

There is no evidence of toxic effects from vitamin E found naturally in foods. Most adults who obtain more than the RDA of 22 IU daily are using multivitamins or separate vitamin E supplements that contain anywhere from 400-1000 IU daily. There have not been reports of harmful side effects of supplement use in healthy people. However, there is a risk of excess bleeding, particularly with doses greater than 1000 mg daily or if an individual is also using a blood thinning medication such as warfarin. For this reason, an upper limit for vitamin E has been set for adults 19 years and older of 1000 mg daily (1465 IU) of any form of tocopherol supplement. [1]

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Vitamin E: Functions and Recommendations

Vitamin E: Functions and Recommendations

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin.

Function

Vitamin E has the following functions:

  • It is an antioxidant. This means it protects body tissue from damage caused by substances called free radicals. Free radicals can harm cells, tissues, and organs. They are believed to play a role in certain conditions related to aging.
  • The body also needs vitamin E to help keep the immune system strong against viruses and bacteria. Vitamin E is also important in the formation of red blood cells. It helps the body use vitamin K. It also helps widen blood vessels and keep blood from clotting inside them.
  • Cells use vitamin E to interact with each other. It helps them carry out many important functions.

Whether vitamin E can prevent cancer, heart disease, dementia, liver disease, and stroke still requires further research.

Food Sources

The best way to get the daily requirement of vitamin E is by eating food sources. Vitamin E is found in the following foods:

  • Vegetable oils (such as wheat germ, sunflower, safflower, corn, and soybean oils)
  • Nuts (such as almonds, peanuts, and hazelnuts/filberts)
  • Seeds (such as sunflower seeds)
  • Green leafy vegetables (such as spinach and broccoli)
  • Fortified breakfast cereals, fruit juices, margarine, and spreads.

Fortified means that vitamins have been added to the food. Check the Nutrition Fact Panel on the food label.

Products made from these foods, such as margarine, also contain vitamin E.

Side Effects

Eating vitamin E in foods is not risky or harmful. However, high doses of vitamin E supplements (alpha-tocopherol supplements) might increase the risk of bleeding in the brain (hemorrhagic stroke).

High levels of vitamin E may also increase the risk for birth defects. However, it needs more research.

Low intake may lead to hemolytic anemia in premature babies.

Recommendations

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for vitamins reflect how much of each vitamin most people should get each day.

  • The RDA for vitamins may be used as goals for each person.
  • How much of each vitamin you need depends on your age and gender.
  • Other factors, such as pregnancy, breastfeeding, and illnesses may increase the amount you need.

The Food and Nutrition Board at the Institute of Medicine Recommended Intakes for individuals for vitamin E:

Infants (adequate intake of vitamin E)

  • 0 to 6 months: 4 mg/day
  • 7 to 12 months: 5 mg/day

Children

  • 1 to 3 years: 6 mg/day
  • 4 to 8 years: 7 mg/day
  • 9 to 13 years: 11 mg/day

Adolescents and adults

  • 14 and older: 15 mg/day
  • Pregnant teens and women: 15 mg/day
  • Breastfeeding teens and women: 19 mg/day

Ask your health care provider which amount is best for you.

The highest safe level of vitamin E supplements for adults is 1,500 IU/day for natural forms of vitamin E, and 1,000 IU/day for the man-made (synthetic) form.

Alternative Names

Alpha-tocopherol; Gamma-tocopherol

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