Vitamin E: General Info

Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that protects cells from free radicals. Free radicals are highly reactive electrons, necessary for thousands of chemical reactions. When there are too many in the body, they can damage cells and contribute to cardiovascular disease, cancer, and premature aging. Antioxidants have the ability to bond with free radicals and halt them from causing damage. Vitamin E has also been shown to influence immune function, DNA repair, and is required for other metabolic processes. Whether or not it can be used to prevent heart disease is still being studied. Some trials have shown it may protect against Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Vitamin E is also lauded for contributing to healthy skin, and is used in many skin creams and lotions.

Where is vitamin E found?

Vitamin E is a fat soluble vitamin found in vegetable oils, nuts, wheat germ, poultry, fish, and green leafy vegetables. The body is not capable of producing this substance, and it must be consumed in the diet or supplements for proper health. Naturally occurring Vitamin E comes in eight different forms; other synthetic forms have been developed. Naturopathic and orthomolecular medicine practitioners do not believe synthetic Vitamin E is effective in preventing cancer, circulatory or heart disease.

What is the recommended dosage?

The recommended daily allowance of Vitamin E in adults is 22 IU (15mg) of naturally occurring Vitamin E, or 33 IU of synthetic forms, with an upper limit of 1,500 IU as a maximum daily intake. Vitamin E deficiency is rare in older children and adults, and usually results from low-fat diets or a person’s inability to metabolize the vitamin. Newborn children have low levels of Vitamin E reserves, and premature infants or infants with a low birth weight can be at risk for deficiency. Symptoms of deficiency include reduced reflexes, difficulty walking, coordination problems, weak muscles, and a loss of a sense of limb position. Premature infants with Vitamin E deficiency are at risk for cranial bleeding and eye disorders. The affects of taking too much Vitamin E are under dispute and still unclear. Excess intake may increase the risk of bleeding, including stroke in adults, particularly with people taking anticoagulant medications such as Coumadin or warfarin. Other side effects of Vitamin E excess may include muscle weakness, fatigue, nausea, and diarrhea.