Vitamin E is a fat-soluble nutrient found in many foods. In the body, it acts as an antioxidanthelping to protect cells from the damage caused by free radicals.
Free radicals are compounds formed when our bodies convert the food we eat into energy. People are also exposed to free radicals in the environment from cigarette smoke, air pollution, and ultraviolet light from the sun.
The body also needs vitamin E to boost its immune system so that it can fight off invading bacteria and viruses. It helps to widen blood vessels and keep blood from clotting within them, vitamin e and heart health.
In addition, cells use vitamin E to interact with each other and to carry vitamin e and heart health many important functions, vitamin e and heart health. The amount of vitamin E you need each day depends on your age. Average daily recommended intakes are listed below in milligrams mg and in International Units IU. Package labels list the amount of vitamin E in foods and dietary supplements in IU.
Vitamin E is found naturally in foods and is added to some fortified foods. You can get recommended amounts of vitamin E by eating a variety of foods including the following:. Vitamin E supplements come in different amounts and forms. Two main things to consider when choosing a vitamin E supplement are:. Vitamin E from natural food sources is commonly listed as " d -alpha-tocopherol" on food packaging and supplement labels.
Synthetic laboratory-made vitamin E is vitamin e and heart health listed as " dl -alpha-tocopherol. Some vitamin E supplements provide other forms of the vitamin, such as gamma-tocopherol, tocotrienols, and mixed tocopherols, vitamin e and heart health. Scientists do not know if any of these forms are superior to alpha-tocopherol in supplements. The diets of most Americans provide less than the recommended amounts of vitamin E. Nevertheless, healthy people rarely show any clear signs that they are not getting enough vitamin E see next question for information on the signs of vitamin E deficiency.
Vitamin E deficiency is very vitamin e and heart health in healthy people. It is almost always linked to certain diseases in which fat is not properly digested or absorbed.
Vitamin E needs some fat for the digestive system to absorb it. 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. Scientists are studying vitamin E to understand how it vitamin e and heart health health. Here are several examples of what this research has shown.
Some studies link higher intakes of vitamin E from supplements to lower chances of developing heart disease. But the best vitamin e and heart health finds no benefit. Vitamin E supplements do not seem to prevent heart disease, reduce its severity, or affect the risk of death from this disease.
Scientists do not know whether high intakes of vitamin E might protect the heart in younger, healthier people who do not have a high risk of heart disease. Most research indicates that vitamin E does not help prevent cancer and may be harmful in some cases.
Large doses of vitamin E have not consistently reduced the risk of colon and breast cancer in studies, for example. However, one study found a link between the use of vitamin E supplements for 10 years or more and a lower risk of death from bladder cancer. Vitamin E dietary supplements and other antioxidants might interact with chemotherapy and radiation therapy. People undergoing these treatments should talk with their doctor or oncologist before taking vitamin E or other antioxidant supplements, especially in high doses.
Age-related macular degeneration AMDor the loss of central vision in older people, and cataracts are among the most common causes of vision loss in older people. The results of research on whether vitamin E can help prevent these conditions are inconsistent. Among people with AMD who were at high risk of developing advanced AMD, a supplement containing large doses of vitamin E combined with other antioxidants, zincand copper showed promise for slowing down the rate of vision loss.
So far, the research provides little evidence that taking vitamin E supplements can help healthy people or people with mild mental functioning problems to maintain brain health. The upper limits for children are lower than those for adults. Some research suggests that taking vitamin E supplements even below these upper limits might cause harm. In one study, for example, men who took IU of vitamin E each day for several years had an increased risk of prostate cancer.
Vitamin E dietary supplements can interact or interfere with certain medicines that you take. Here are some examples:. Tell your doctor, pharmacistand other healthcare providers about any dietary supplements and medicines you take. They can tell you if those dietary supplements might interact or interfere with your prescription or over-the-counter medicines, or if the medicines might interfere with how your body absorbs, uses, or breaks down nutrients.
Foods contain vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber and other substances that benefit health. In some cases, fortified foods and dietary supplements may provide nutrients that otherwise may be consumed in less-than-recommended amounts. For more information about building a healthy diet, refer to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the U. This fact sheet by vitamin e and heart health Office of Dietary Supplements ODS provides information that should not take the place of medical advice.
We encourage you to talk to your healthcare providers doctor, registered dietitian, pharmacist, etc. Any mention in this publication of a specific product or service, or recommendation from an organization or professional society, does not represent an endorsement by ODS of that product, service, vitamin e and heart health, or expert advice. Strengthening Knowledge and Understanding of Dietary Supplements. Vitamin E Fact Sheet for Consumers.
Table of Contents What is vitamin E and what does it do? How much vitamin E do I need? What foods provide vitamin E? What kinds of vitamin E dietary supplements are available? Am I getting enough vitamin E? What are some effects of vitamin E on health? Can vitamin E be harmful? Are there any interactions with vitamin E that I should know about? Vitamin E and healthful eating Where can I find out more about vitamin E? Disclaimer This fact sheet by the Office of Dietary Supplements ODS provides information that should not take the place of medical advice.