July 23, 2016

Vitamin E

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How does Vitamin E work?

Vitamin E is an important vitamin required for the proper function of many organs in the body. It is also an antioxidant. This means it helps to slow down processes that damage cells.

Are there safety concerns?

Vitamin E is LIKELY SAFE for most healthy people when taken by mouth or applied to the skin. Most people do not experience any side effects when taking the recommended daily dose, which is 15 mg.

Vitamin E is POSSIBLY UNSAFE if taken by mouth in high doses. If you have a condition such as heart disease or diabetes, do not take doses of 400 IU/day or more. Some research suggests that high doses might increase the chance of death and possibly cause other serious side effects. The higher the dose, the greater the risk of serious side effects.

There is some concern that vitamin E might increase the chance of having a serious stroke called hemorrhagic stroke, which is bleeding into the brain. Some research shows that taking vitamin E in doses of 300-800 IU each day might increase the chance of this kind of stroke by 22%. However, in contrast, vitamin E might decrease the chance of having a less severe stroke called an ischemic stroke.

There is contradictory information about the effect of vitamin E on the chance of developing prostate cancer. Some research suggests that taking large amounts of a multivitamin plus a separate vitamin E supplement might actually increase the chance of developing prostate cancer in some men.

High doses can also cause nausea, diarrhea, stomach cramps, fatigue, weakness, headache, blurred vision, rash, and bruising and bleeding.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy: When used in the recommended daily amount, vitamin E is POSSIBLY SAFE for pregnant women. There has been some concern that taking vitamin E supplements might be harmful to the fetus when taken in early pregnancy. However, it is too soon to know if this is an important concern. Until more is known, do not take vitamin E supplements during early pregnancy without talking with your healthcare provider.

Breast-feeding: Vitamin E is LIKELY SAFE when taken by mouth in recommended daily amounts during breast-feeding.

Infants and children: Vitamin E is LIKELY SAFE when taken by mouth appropriately. The maximum amounts of vitamin E that are considered safe for children are based on age. Less than 200 mg daily is safe for children 1 to 3 years old. Less than 300 mg daily is safe for children 4 to 8 years old. Less than 600 mg daily is safe for children 9 to 13 years old. Less than 800 mg daily is safe for children ages 14 to 18 years old. Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) is POSSIBLY UNSAFE when given intravenously (by IV) to premature infants in high doses.

Angioplasty, a heart procedure: Avoid taking supplements containing vitamin E or other antioxidant vitamins (beta-carotene, vitamin C) immediately before and following angioplasty without the supervision of a health care professional. These vitamins seem to interfere with proper healing.

Diabetes: Vitamin E might increase the risk for heart failure in people with diabetes. People with diabetes should avoid high doses of vitamin E.

Heart attack: Vitamin E might increase the risk for death in people with a history of heart attack. People with a history of heart attack should avoid high doses of vitamin E.

Low levels of vitamin K (vitamin K deficiency): Vitamin E might worsen clotting problems in people whose levels of vitamin K are too low.

An eye condition called retinitis pigmentosa: All-rac-alpha-tocopherol (synthetic vitamin E) 400 IU seems to speed vision loss in people with retinitis pigmentosa. However, much lower amounts (3 IU) do not seem to produce this effect. If you have this condition, it is best to avoid vitamin E.

Bleeding disorders: Vitamin E might make bleeding disorders worse. If you have a bleeding disorder, avoid taking vitamin E supplements.

Head and neck cancer: Do not take vitamin E supplements in doses of 400 IU/day or more. Vitamin E might increase the chance that cancer will return.

Prostate cancer: There is concern that taking vitamin E might increase the chance of developing prostate cancer. The effect of vitamin E in men who currently have prostate cancer is not clear. However, in theory, taking vitamin E supplements might worsen prostate cancer in men who already have it.

Stroke: Vitamin E might increase the risk for death in people with a history of stroke. People with a history of stroke should avoid high doses of vitamin E.

Surgery: Vitamin E might increase the risk of bleeding during and after surgery. Stop using vitamin E at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.


Therapeutic Research Faculty copyright

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