Vitamin E is a nutrient that's important to vision, reproduction, and the health of your blood, brain and skin.
Vitamin E also has antioxidant properties. Antioxidants are substances that might protect your cells against the effects of free radicals — molecules produced when your body breaks down food or is exposed to tobacco smoke and radiation. Free radicals might play a role in heart disease, cancer and other diseases. If you take vitamin E for its antioxidant properties, keep in mind that the supplement might not offer the same benefits as naturally occurring antioxidants in food.
Foods rich in vitamin E include canola oil, olive oil, margarine, almonds and peanuts. You can also get vitamin E from meats, dairy, leafy greens and fortified cereals. Vitamin E is also available as an oral supplement in capsules or drops.
Vitamin E deficiency can cause nerve pain (neuropathy).
The recommended daily amount of vitamin E for adults is 15 milligrams a day.
Research on vitamin E use for specific conditions shows:
- Alzheimer's disease. Some research has shown that high-dose vitamin E might delay the progression of Alzheimer's disease in people who have been diagnosed with mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease. Other studies haven't shown this benefit. Vitamin E supplements appear to have no effect on whether people with mild cognitive impairment progress to Alzheimer's disease.
- Liver disease. Studies show that vitamin E might improve symptoms of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. However, some evidence suggests that taking oral vitamin E for this purpose for two years is linked to insulin resistance.
- Preeclampsia. Increasing your intake of vitamin E hasn't been shown to prevent this pregnancy condition that affects blood pressure.
- Prostate cancer. Research shows that vitamin E and selenium supplements don't prevent prostate cancer. There is also concern that use of vitamin E supplements might increase the risk of prostate cancer.
Most people get enough vitamin E from a balanced diet. If you've been diagnosed with mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease, some research suggests that vitamin E therapy might help slow disease progression.
However, oral use of vitamin E might increase the risk of prostate cancer. Use of the supplement can pose other serious risks, particularly at high doses and if you have other health conditions or have had a heart attack or stroke.
Oct. 18, 2017
- Vitamin E oral. Facts & Comparisons eAnswers. http://www.wolterskluwercdi.com/facts-comparisons-online/. Accessed Aug. 10, 2017.
- Vitamin E. Micromedex 2.0 Healthcare Series. http://www.micromedexsolutions.com. Accessed Aug. 10, 2017.
- Vitamin E. Natural Medicines. https://naturalmedicines.therapeuticresearch.com. Accessed Sept. 27, 2017.
- Antioxidants. AskMayoExpert. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2017.
- Press D, et al. Prevention of dementia. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed Aug. 15, 2017.
- Sexton DJ, et al. The common cold in adults: Treatment and prevention. https://www.uptodate.com/content/search. Accessed Aug. 8, 2017.
- Press D, et al. Treatment of dementia. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed Aug. 17, 2017.
- Vitamin and mineral supplements. American Heart Association. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/HealthyEating/Vitamin-and-Mineral-Supplements_UCM_306033_Article.jsp#.WDpy-X0mGLU. Accessed Aug. 17, 2017.