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Vitamin E: Friend or Foe?

Nutrition News Flash

Vitamin E works as an antioxidant, preventing a chemical reaction called oxidation, which can sometimes result in harmful effects on the body. Knowing that vitamin E is an important nutrient, many people take large, mega-doses of it because they believe that it will help reduce the oxidation effect, slow the aging process and prevent cancer and heart disease.

Recently researchers looked at over 19 vitamin-E studies conducted between 1993-2004. More than 136,000 people where involved in these studies. In some of the studies the participants took only vitamin E, while in other studies a combination of vitamin supplements were taken including vitamin E. The investigation of these studies found that people who took more than 400 International Units (IU) of vitamin E a day died at a higher rate than those who did not take supplements. 

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There are 8 different naturally occurring forms of vitamin E. Most supplements only contain one form. Supplements do not provide the same benefits as food sources. Therefore, try to increase your dietary intake of vitamin E through foods such as wheat germ, vegetable oils, salad dressings, nuts, seeds, peanuts, peanut butter, whole grains, fish and eggs. Don’t exceed 400 IU of vitamin E per day. More research is needed regarding the functions of the various forms of vitamin E and how much is needed to protect against disease.

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Member Comments

  • Interesting article! Thanks!
    Thanks for an interesting article! :)
  • Excuse me? They died?!
  • I would be professionally embarassed to have my name as a scientist on those studies that found it harmful . . . they were looking at artificial vitamin E which even the dullest bulb, dullest inDUHvidual knows that doesn't fly. I will continue to take only the naturally occurring form of vitamin E, NOT ARTIFICIAL and yes my vitamin E supplement contains all 8 forms.
  • In that study was the vitamin e = early death taken in a fish oil type form? Do you have the name of the studies?
  • Why would anyone take vitamins if they didn't have a need for it - were their levels tested? I always wonder about the health of the participants in these studies. Are any EVER tested for leaky gut?

    I got my vitamin E level tested after taking 800iu for a period of time. I was over, so I cut back to 400iu. It's kinda ridiculous to take fat soluble vitamins without knowing your levels. You should not be willy-nilly with fat soluble supplements; but sometimes absolutely more than the RDA is warranted. Consider checking with your health care provider for guidance - someone with a bent on nutrition, not MEDICINE, perhaps.
    Most Vit E in capsules and in our food and beauty products come from wheat which is bad for people with Celiac Disease or gluten issues.
    Most Vit E in capsules and in our food and beauty products come from wheat which is bad for people with Celiac Disease or gluten issues.
  • It's best not to take more than the RDA of any of fat-soluable vitamins. (A,D,E,K)
  • The study didn't run very long....about 10 years, if I remember. These people died within ten years of the start of the study? Where they already dying or did the extra E push them along.
  • This article does not make it clear if the deaths were from those who took Vitamin E combined with other supplements or Vitamin E alone. I don't know if that was addressed in the studies, but it wasn't addressed in the article.
  • I took 1000 iu's of Vit e for a while as my father died from Alzhemiers and his doctor said his children should take that much. Then at a science fair I heard that was hard on our livers so I went down to 400. Recently I have only been taking 200 but I have run out, maybe I just won't refill it as I take a multi vitamin pill everyday and it has 30 iu's of Vit E. Hmmm, maybe we should just stop taking supplements?
  • I take vitamin E along with a few other vitamins for my "Menopause" cocktail and have had great success. I will continue with it.
  • I take 400 IU of vitamin E daily also.

About The Author

Becky Hand Becky Hand
Becky is a registered and licensed dietitian with almost 20 years of experience. A certified health coach through the Cooper Institute with a master's degree in health education, she makes nutrition principles practical, easy-to-apply and fun. See all of Becky's articles.