Vitamin E (Oral)

Vitamin E is one of the most important vitamins, since you need it in order for many organs in your body to work, and as an antioxidant, it can help your body slow down metabolic processes that impact the aging process.

Overview

All vitamins are made up of compounds that your body needs for health and wellbeing. They are required in small portions that you get from the food you eat. Each vitamin has a different benefit to your body. Vitamin E prevents a process called oxidation, a chemical reaction that is harmful to your cells. It's also needed for muscle and nerve function.

Your healthcare provider should be the one to suggest a vitamin E supplement, if they determine you need one.

The most common deficiency of this essential vitamin occurs in infants who don't get a formula fortified with vitamin E. Also, eating foods with excessive polyunsaturated fatty acids may lead to a vitamin E deficiency.

Often, you will see claims that vitamin E is a good way to treat cancer or acne. Similar claims are prevalent in the modern culture that suggest it has been purported to fight aging, bee stings, hair loss, frostbite, stomach ulcers, bursitis and heart attacks. Supposedly, vitamin E has the ability to alleviate labor pains, miscarriages and some blood diseases. You can find similar claims for beneficial results from taking vitamin E for muscular dystrophy, sexual impotence, poor posture, menopause, sterility, infertility, sunburn and even lungs damaged by poor air quality. Although vitamin E is believed to prevent certain cancers, there isn't enough information to prove it.

A dangerous lack of vitamin E is very rare unless you have a disease that won't allow your body to absorb it properly. If you do require more vitamin E, it's available in most drug stores, without a prescription.

At times, vitamin E is prescribed or taken to reduce the impact of medical treatments, including dialysis and radiation. It reduces the unwanted impacts of some drugs that cause hair loss, mainly in patients using doxorubicin and also reduces lung damage caused by amiodarone.

Vitamin E is believed to improve your endurance, give you more energy and minimize muscle damage following exercise. Over time, this can lead to healthier muscles and fewer injuries.

Here are the common brand names:

  • D-Alpha Gems
  • Formula E 400
  • Aquasol E
  • Aqua Gem-E
  • E-600
  • E-Gems
  • Gamma E-Gems
  • E-400
  • Natural Vitamin E-400IU
  • Gamma E Plus
  • Alpha-E
  • Nutr-E-Sol
  • Key-E

Conditions treated

  • Intestinal disease
  • Liver disease
  • Surgical removal of stomach
  • Pancreas disease
  • cataracts
  • asthma
  • respiratory infections
  • skin disorders
  • aging skin
  • sunburns
  • cystic fibrosis
  • infertility, impotence
  • chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS)
  • peptic ulcers

Type of medicine

  • Anti-oxidant

Side Effects

Vitamin E is most beneficial when administered orally. People take it orally or apply it to the skin. If you are like most people, you'll have no side effects with recommended allowances. However, high doses have yielded negative reactions. When people with heart conditions and diabetes take too much vitamin E, they experience unwanted side effects. If you have diabetes or heart disease, keep your daily dose below 400 IU/day to protect your health.

As an example, after taking high doses of vitamin E (greater than 300 and as much as 800 IU) per day, some patients increased their chances of suffering a stroke, called a hemorrhagic stroke, by more than 20%.

If you had or are planning to have, an angioplasty, which is a heart procedure, you should not take any supplements with vitamin E or other antioxidants around the time of the procedure. This is a rare occasion, but in this particular instance, taking vitamin E can make it take longer to heal. If you don't understand this fully, that's not unusual. However, you should tell your doctor about any concerns you have so that he can help you figure out how to get the best care.

If you take vitamin E or any other anti-oxidant that can interfere with your healing process, you should consider holding off on taking them until you are feeling better.

Supplementing your diet with excess amounts of vitamin E can cause the following:

  • Heart failure for diabetic people with heart conditions
  • Worsening of any bleeding disorder
  • Additional bleeding while undergoing surgery and while recovering
  • More severe heart attacks or strokes
  • Increased risk of recurring neck, head or prostate cancer

Although inconclusive, some studies indicate that overuse of vitamin E supplements can be dangerous for women in the first weeks of pregnancy. It's worth noting that women who took vitamin E supplements in their first trimester ended up suffering higher rates of congenital heart defects.

If you take too much vitamin E, you may experience fatigue, diarrhea, cramps and rashes. On the other hand, some people reported blurred vision, headaches, and more bruising than normal. Topical vitamin E irritates the skin, so place a small amount on different parts of your body to assess whether you may have allergies regarding vitamin E. Dabbing on these small amounts can prevent rashes and discomfort.

Dosing

Vitamin E has the following dosage form for oral consumption:

  • Liquid
  • Solution
  • Capsule
  • Tablet

Of course, the recommended dosages of vitamin E will vary from person to person. There are instructions on the labeling of any prescription medicine and/or the label for all over-the-counter versions. Remember that the dose on the labeling is the average dosage. Your ideal dose depends on a lot of factors. If you have any questions or concerns about the dosage, call your doctor to clarify. Don't modify the change unless instructed to do so.

Everyone has an ideal amount of Vitamin E they should take based on their health. Here are some guidelines for dosages. These are not meant to be taken literally. The dosages are organized by dosage type.

Oral solutions

Because of its wide-spread benefits, vitamin E is often prescribed for babies, but in smaller doses than older children.

  • This dosage is commonly used to prevent deficiencies in babies; infants with high polyunsaturated fatty acids get 15 to 25 units per day delivered in bottles with seven doses per 32 ounces of formula.
  • Infants with colon disorders should get 15 to 25 units for every kilogram (kg), or 6.8 to 11 units per pound of body weight. The dose of vitamin E is water-soluble for faster absorption.
  • Infants with a normal or above average birthweight can receive five units with each 32 ounces of formula.

Oral dosage forms (tablets, capsules, liquid solutions)

Dosage suggestions can differ from country to country. However, in order to prevent deficiencies in individuals (not including infants), the amounts below represent the U.S. daily recommendations.

  • Adult and male teens should take 10 mg alpha tocopherol measurement or 16.7 units daily.
  • Adult and girls in their teens need 8 mg alpha-TE (13 units per day).
  • Pregnant females can ask for 10 mg alpha-TE or 16.7 units per day.
  • Breast-feeding moms - 11 to 12 mg alpha-TE
  • Children 4 to 10 - 7 mg alpha-TE
  • Children under 3 years - 3 to 6 mg alpha-TE

For Canada, the following doses are recommended.

  • Adult and teen males - 6 to 10 mg alpha-TE
  • Adult and teen females - 5 to 7 mg alpha-TE
  • Pregnant females - 8 to 9 mg alpha-TE
  • Breast-feeding females - 9 to 10 mg alpha-TE
  • 0 to 3 years of age - 3 to 4 mg alpha-TE
  • 4 to 6 years of age - 5 mg alpha-TE
  • 7 to 10 years of age - 6 to 8 mg alpha-TE

To treat deficiency:

Adults, teens, and children all have unique recommended doses based on the cause of their vitamin deficiencies. The dosage will be a combination of the severity of the deficiencies and the maximum daily allocation recommended.

If you take the oral liquid form of the Vitamin E dietary supplement:

  • This preparation needs to be taken by mouth and is delivered from a dropper bottle.
  • To administer, drop the dose directly into your mouth or mix it into juice. This dietary supplement is dropped in the mouth or put into cereal and other easy to digest food.

Note that missing a dose does not require taking double amounts. When you miss a dose, just skip it. Return to the regular schedule as soon as possible.

Interactions

There are medicines you shouldn't use together under any circumstance, but at other times your doctor must prescribe two medicines that interact negatively in the best interest of your health. In the latter case, your health care professional should work with you to reduce dosages of vitamin E and other medications to avoid adverse interaction.

Double-check that your doctor knows about the harmful interaction possible if you take any of the following. Please understand that this list may unintentionally omit some medications that interact badly with vitamin E.

This list is not inclusive but rather chosen based on the greatest potential to cause an issue.

As a reminder, using vitamin E with any of these drugs is not a good idea. Only if you are required to take both for conflicting health concerns should you do so. If your doctor prescribes both, make sure he understands the risk for interactions and ask any questions you need to in order to feel at ease about the possible outcomes.

  • Dicumarol
  • Warfarin
  • Tobacco
  • Alcohol

Using alcohol or tobacco carries with it the risk of heart, lung and other health threats. Pairing alcohol or tobacco intake with any supplement or drug is not recommended. As always, take specific concerns about vitamin E interactions to your doctor.

Warnings

Taking this dietary supplement without a prescription is quite common. You should be especially careful then to take note of precautions on the label. Here are a few of the highlights.

Allergies

Tell your doctor if you have ever had an unusual or allergic reaction to this medicine or any other medicine. For non-prescription products, read the label or package ingredients carefully.

Pediatric

Problems in children have not been reported with intake of normal daily recommended amounts. You should check with your health care professional if you are giving your baby an unfortified formula. In that case, the baby must get the vitamins needed some other way. Some studies have shown that premature infants may have low levels of vitamin E. Your health care professional may recommend a vitamin E supplement.

Geriatric

Problems in older adults have not been reported with intake of normal, daily recommended amounts.

Pregnancy

Adequate studies in pregnant women have not shown an increased risk of fetal abnormalities.

Breastfeeding

More comprehensive studies are needed to determine if there is a risk to the infant when using this medication during breastfeeding. Weigh up the potential gains against the associated risks before taking this medication while breastfeeding.

Other Medical Problems

The presence of other medical problems may affect the use of this dietary supplement. Make sure you tell your doctor if you have any other medical problems, especially bleeding problems. Vitamin E, when taken in doses greater than 800 units a day for long periods of time, may make this condition worse

Storage

Store your vitamin E supplements in a closed container and store at room temperature. Keep the supplement away from heat, direct light and moisture. Do not freeze the dosage.

  • Store where children can't find them
  • Discard expired medicine or medicine you no longer need

Summary

Free radicals break down cells in your body every day. They are also around us, fighting to destroy our skin, organs and cells. When they win the battle, you can end up with heart disease or some kind of cancer.

Free radicals are molecules that form in your body, and these molecules are always forming as a natural process inside your organs and skin. You can only stop the process by preventing or slowing down the rate of oxidation.

By taking supplements of vitamin E, you increase the occurrence of certain isomers that can use their antioxidant superpowers to fight free radical damage, such as inflammation. This can have a dramatic impact on how free radicals impact your aging. Vitamin E slows down the aging process associated with free radicals, and it helps your cells fight health concerns such as heart disease.

For your specific diet, you may take more than one vitamin or mineral, as long as it's ok with your doctor or other health care advisor. They should be able to give you a list of foods that can help you lose weight and stay on track to let the vitamin E supplement help build up your body's defenses.

Luckily, vitamin E occurs naturally in different food sources, including vegetables and oils in:

  • Corn
  • Soybean
  • Cottonseed
  • Safflower
  • Wheat germ and whole-grain cereals
  • Green leafy vegetables

Vitamin supplements cannot replace a good diet, which is why you need to maintain appropriate energy levels throughout the day. Your body requires other nutrients found in your food. So, start a healthy diet to give your body fat, carbohydrates and minerals. Vitamins themselves require other nutrients to be absorbed into your system. For example, small amounts of fat make it possible for vitamin E to make it into your blood stream.

Choose vitamin E to make up for deficiencies in your diet or in your children's diets, but be aware of any possible interactions that could be harmful to your health and wellbeing.

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Last Reviewed:
December 25, 2017
Last Updated:
April 05, 2018
Content Source: