The EclecticPhysician

The Eclectic Physician
Vitamin and Mineral Information

Vitamin E

The information on this page compiled by
Beth Burch N.D.
(click on the keywords)


Vitamin E is one of the fat soluble vitamins whose primary function in the body is as an antioxidant, protecting cell membranes from damage. (1) It is incorporated into the fat portion of cell membranes and stabilizes and protects them from damage from toxic compounds, heavy metals, radiation and free radical metabolic by-products. It is especially important in protecting the cells of the nervous and immune systems. Deficiency of vitamin E results in nerve damage, muscle weakness and anemia from the breakage of red blood cells. In animals, vitamin E deficiency causes sterility.

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  • Natural
  • d-alpha tocopherol or d-alpha tocopheryl
  • Natural vitamin E is the form that the body incorporates into cell membranes
  • d-alpha tocopheryl is more stable
  • Synthetic
  • dl-alpha tocopherol or dl-alpha tocopheryl
  • Synthetic vitamin E may prevent the natural form from being incorporated into cell membranes.
  • Other tocopherols
  • d-beta, d-delta, d-gamma and tocotrienols
  • Not as much antioxidant activity as d-alpha, but have tumor prevention and heart disease prevention activity
  • Best choice
  • Natural d-alpha tocopheryl with mixed tocopherols

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Food Sources

  • Polyunsaturated vegetable oils like safflower and sunflower oil are very good sources of vitamin E along with seeds, nuts, whole grains. Good sources include green leafy vegetables, berries, tomatoes and avocados.

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  • Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA)
  • Infants- 4.5-6 IU
  • Children (ages 1-10)- 9-10.5 IU
  • Adults- 12-15 IU
  • Pregnancy- 15 IU
  • Lactation- 18 IU
  • Optimal Supplementation
  • 400 IU per day
  • Treatment of Health Conditions
  • 400-800 IU per day
  • Common conditions used for
  • Heart disease- vitamin E has been shown to reduce LDL levels and increase HDL levels and prevent the oxidation of cholesterol and other fats which can damage blood vessel walls leading to atherosclerosis. Also inhibits excessive platelet aggregation helping to prevent blood clots which lead to heart attack and stroke (2,3,4)
  • Cancer prevention- shown to lower the risk of developing gastrointestinal, lung and prostate cancers (6.7)
  • Cataracts & Macular Degeneration- antioxidants such as vitamin E may help delay the onset (8)
  • Improves immune function in the elderly (9)
  • Arthritis- helpful in reducing pain in both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis (10)
  • Alzheimer’s diseases- low vitamin E levels associated with poor memory (11)
  • Other conditions that may be helped by vitamin E- acne, AIDS, allergies, cervical dysplasia, dysmennorrhea, eczema, fibrocystic breast disease, hepatitis, hot flashes, infections, neuralgia, ulcers, periodontal disease, PMS, ulcerative colitis, vaginal dryness, wounds

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Side effects

  • None known

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  • Blood clotting disorders
  • Deficiency of vitamin K

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Interactions with other nutrients

  • Acts synergistically with other antioxidant nutrients like vitamin C and selenium
  • Protects essential fatty acids from damage
  • Antagonizes the blood clotting action of vitamin K

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Interactions with medications and herbs

  • Potentiates the effects of anticoagulant medications and herbs such as warfarin, aspirin, ibuprofen, ginkgo and feverfew. Vitamin E supplements should not be combined with these except under doctor’s supervision.

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1. Evstigneeva RP, et al, Vitamin E as a universal antioxidant & stabilizer of biological membranes, Membr Cell Biol 1998; 12(2):151-72
2.Chan AC, Vitamin E and atherosclerosis, J Nutr 1998;128(10):1593-6
3. Gey KF, et al, Inverse correlation between plasma vitamin E & mortality from ischemic heart disease..., Amer J Clin Nut 1991; 53:326-334S,
4. Stampfer MJ, Vitamin E consumption & the risk of coronary heart disease in women, New Eng J Med,1993; 328: 1444-48
5. Rimm EB, et al, Vitamin E consumption & the risk of coronary heart disease in men, New Eng J Med,1993; 328: 1450-56
6. Fleshner NE, et al, Diet, androgens, oxidative stress & prostate cancer susceptibility, Cancer Metastasis Rev 1998-99;17:325-30
7. Knecht P, et al, Vitamin E in cancer prevention, Amer J Clin Nut 1991; 53:283-286S
8. Jacques PF, The potential preventative effects of vitamins for cataract and age-related macular degeneration, Int J Vitam Nutr Res 1999;69(3):198-205
9. de la Fuente M, et al, Immune function in aged women is improved by the ingestion of vitamins C & E, Can J Physiol Pharmacol 1998;76(4):373-80
10. Sangha O, et al, Vitamin E in therapy of rheumatic diseases, Z Rheumatol 1998;57(4):207-14
11. Perkins AJ, et al, Association of antioxidants with memory..., Amer Journal of Epidemiology 1999; 150(1):37-44

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* The information presented in this web site is intended to inform and educate. It is not intended replace a qualified medical practitioner to diagnose or treat medical conditions.

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