Supplements: Vitamin E
Research has shown that vitamin E helps the body ward off many diseases, and it protects cells from certain kinds of damage, which helps them live longer. The effect of this protection over time is that vitamin E helps slow down the cell damage that happens naturally as we age.
Vitamin E protects the body against some disorders and helps treat others.
This is a partial list of these disorders.
- Cancer. Vitamin E plays an important role in cancer treatment, including cancers of the skin, mouth and throat, stomach, colon, breast, and prostate gland. It may also reduce the risk of cancers of the lung, esophagus, and cervix.
- Vitamin E seems to interfere with the oxygen-controlled signals that make cancer cells grow. It also protects normal cells from the damaging effects of chemotherapy, but leaves cancer cells vulnerable.
- Heart attacks and strokes. Research suggests that vitamin E helps prevent arteries from clogging by blocking the conversion of cholesterol into its most dangerous form.
- Vitamin E is also a powerful anti-clotting agent, which helps blood flow more easily through arteries when fatty plaques (fat deposits that stick to blood vessel walls) are present. Immune system disorders. These disorders lower the body's defenses against illness, but vitamin E can bring your level of immunity up again.
- Aging-related diseases. Vitamin E can prevent the progress of these diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease, which can cause physical and mental decline.
- Cataracts and macular degeneration. Vitamin E can counteract these conditions, which affect your eyesight and can lead to blindness.
- Diabetes. Vitamin E can help reduce the risk of heart disease in people with diabetes.
Vitamin E also helps in other ways.
- Slows the aging of all cells and tissues
- Protects against environmental pollutants
- Keeps red blood cells healthy and helps prevent anemia
- Treats disorders related to trouble digesting fats
- Serves in the treatment of most skin diseases
- Helps wounds heal faster
- Promotes the treatment of reproductive disorders
- Reduces premenstrual discomforts
- Decreases symptoms of lupus
Foods that contain a significant amount of vitamin E include: nuts (including almonds, hazelnuts, and walnuts) as well as sunflower seeds, corn-oil margarine, mayonnaise, cold-pressed vegetable oils, including corn, safflower, soybean, cottonseed, canola, and wheat germ (the richest one), spinach and kale, sweet potatoes, and yams.
You can choose between natural and synthetic forms of vitamin E. Health care providers usually recommend natural vitamin E (d-alpha-tocopherol). The synthetic form is called dl-alpha-tocopherol.
Vitamin E comes as softgels, tablets and capsules. You will find them in doses that include 50 IU, 100 IU, 200 IU, 400 IU, 500 IU, 600 IU, and 1,000 IU.
For people who have trouble digesting fats, vitamin E succinate ("dry-E") is best.
How to Take It
For the prevention and treatment of disease, adults should take between 200 IU and 400 IU of vitamin E daily with water, preferably after eating.
As with all medicines and supplements, check with a health care provider before giving vitamin E supplements to a child.
Vitamin E is generally nontoxic. In high doses (more than 1,200 IU daily) it can cause nausea, gas, diarrhea, and heart palpitations.
Check with your health care provider before taking vitamin E under the following conditions.
If you have high blood pressure If you are taking blood-thinners such as coumadin or warfarin
Possible interactions involving vitamin E include:
- Inhibits the absorption of vitamin K which promotes clotting of blood
- Can increase the risk of abnormal bleeding in people taking anti-coagulants
- Can be destroyed by iron supplements, can have its absorption decreased by the drugs cholestyramine and colestipol
- Enhances the use of the body's vitamin A supplies; excess intake of vitamin E can deplete vitamin A stores in the body
- Is enhanced by selenium, a trace element in foods
- Is depleted by heavy alcohol use
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