Natural Standard® Patient Monograph, Copyright © 2014 (www.naturalstandard.com). All Rights Reserved. Commercial distribution prohibited. This monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. You should consult with a qualified healthcare provider before making decisions about therapies and/or health conditions.

Background

Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin with antioxidant properties. Vitamin E exists in eight different forms: alpha-, beta-, gamma-, and delta-tocopherol; and alpha-, beta-, gamma-, and delta-tocotrienol. Alpha-tocopherol is the most active form in humans.

Dosing for vitamin E is often given in alpha-tocopherol equivalents (ATEs). This accounts for the different activities that the different forms of vitamin E have in the body. One milligram of an ATE is equal to 1.5 international units (IU).

Vitamin E supplements are available in natural or man-made forms. The natural forms are usually labeled with the letter "d" (for example, d-gamma-tocopherol), whereas synthetic forms are labeled "dl" (for example, dl-alpha-tocopherol).

Foods that contain vitamin E include eggs, fortified cereals, fruit, green leafy vegetables (such as spinach), meat, nuts, nut oils, poultry, vegetable oils (corn, cottonseed, safflower, soybean, sunflower), argan oil, olive oil, wheat germ oil, and whole grains. Cooking and storage may destroy some of the vitamin E in foods.

Vitamin E has been studied for the prevention or treatment of many health conditions. However, there is a lack of strong evidence to support its use for any disease at this time, aside from vitamin E deficiency.

Concerns have been raised about the safety of vitamin E supplementation, particularly in high doses. An increased risk of bleeding may occur in people taking blood thinners, or those with vitamin K deficiency. Evidence suggests that regular use of high-dose vitamin E supplements may increase the risk of death from all causes by a small amount, although research is unclear. Caution is advised.

Vitamin E has also been studied for scar prevention. However, there is a lack of evidence to support this use. Because of a risk of allergic skin symptoms, some researchers have advised against the use of this therapy.

This evidence-based monograph was prepared by The Natural Standard Research Collaboration

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