Vitamin E

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.

Are there safety concerns?

Vitamin E is 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 dose each day, which is 15 mg.

If you have a condition such as heart disease or diabetes, or a history of heart attack or stroke, don't take doses of 400 IU/day or more. Some research suggests that high doses might increase the chance of death from all causes and possibly cause other serious side effects. The higher the dose, the greater the risk of serious side effects.

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.

When used in the recommended daily amount vitamin E is considered safe for pregnant and breast-feeding women. However, don't take higher amounts without the advice of your healthcare professional.

Do not use vitamin E if:
  • You have just undergone a procedure called angioplasty.
  • You have been told you have low levels of vitamin K.
  • You have an eye condition called retinitis pigmentosa.
  • You have a blood clotting disorder.
  • You have head and neck cancer.
  • You have diabetes. High doses of vitamin E might be harmful.
  • You have had a stroke or heart attack in the past. High doses of vitamin E might be harmful.
  • You are scheduled for surgery in the next two weeks. Vitamin E might increase the risk of bleeding.

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Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.


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