What Are the Benefits of Taking Vitamin E?

Medically Reviewed on 9/7/2021
benefits to vitamin E
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin that offers benefits such as antioxidant properties in reducing free radicals, fertility improvements, and potential cancer prevention.

Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin that goes by the name tocopherol, which comes from the Greek words "tocos" (offspring) and "phero" (to bring forth). In the past, vitamin E was believed to be an essential nutrient that aids fertility and normal fetal and childhood development.

Additionally, the role of vitamin E in various physiological processes includes:

  • Antioxidant:
    • During the cellular biochemical processes, many free radicals are produced as by-products, which can hasten cell damage, cause cell aging and trigger carcinogenic (cancer-causing) changes in the cells. Vitamin E works as a free radical scavenger due to its antioxidant action, destroying the free radicals and protecting the cells from the resultant damage.
    • The free radicals and antioxidants are potential triggers for cell inflammation that is observed in diseases, such as hypertension, diabetes and atherosclerosis.
    • Many researchers believe that vitamin E deficiency may hasten cardiovascular events by affecting the levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL). 
      • When LDL in the cell wall is exposed to free radicals, it can undergo chemical changes, which cause the formation of atherogenic plaques along the inner lining of the blood vessels, facilitating atherogenesis. 
      • Though vitamin E may play some role in promoting vascular health and preventing heart disease, the long-term evidence for this is not very promising.
  • Fertility:
    • Vitamin E may have a role in good sperm health as well as making the cervix more habitable to the sperms. It is known to improve both male and female fertility, which may be due to its antioxidant properties.
  • Liver protection:
    • Studies suggest that regular vitamin E intake may help counteract the liver damage seen in cases of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
    • The antioxidant properties of vitamin E may help stop or slow down the scarring seen in the affected cells. However, the effect is dose-dependent, and a person must start vitamin E supplementation only after consulting their doctor.
  • Immunity:
    • Some studies show that vitamin E supplementation may improve immune function, especially in middle-aged women.
  • Gastric ulcers:
    • Vitamin E may hasten the recovery from gastric ulcers caused by alcohol ingestion or painkillers. It may also have a role in Helicobacter pylori elimination (H pylori is a bacterium implicated in gastric cancers and recurrent gastric ulcers).
  • Age-related macular degeneration (AMD):
    • People who are at risk of gradual visual loss due to AMD have shown promising improvement when put on large doses of vitamin E combined with vitamin C, zinc and other antioxidants.
  • Uses in dermatology:
    • Vitamin E is often used in dermatology for these local applications
      • Helps reduce sunburns
      • Prevents and treats sun damage to the skin
      • Melasma (facial pigmentation due to pregnancy)
      • Minor burns, scar lightening, as well as accelerate wound healing
    • Often found in skincare products, vitamin E application hydrates the stratum corneum (SC, the superficial skin layer) of the skin and plumps it up.
  • Treatment of pressure sores:
    • Vitamin E supplementation has shown good results in the treatment of pressure sores and venous ulcers.
  • Cancer prevention or protection:
    • Clinical trials that used vitamin E for the prevention of prostate cancer have found conflicting results.
      • One study confirmed a 32 percent decrease in the incidence of prostate cancer and a 41 percent decrease in the mortality due to cancer of the prostate in male smokers who ingested 50 mg (75 units) of alpha-tocopherol (vitamin E) for five to eight years.
      • However, this finding could not be replicated in large-scale studies.
    • Animal studies have reported a decrease in skin cancer in the mice supplemented with vitamin E, though evidence in human volunteers is missing.

What are sources of vitamin E?

Vitamin E is found in a variety of nuts (such as almonds, peanuts, hazelnuts) and seeds (such as sunflower, pumpkin). It is also found in vegetable oils and cereals. Olives, wheat germ, safflower, corn and soybeans, as well as fresh and green vegetables, such as spinach and broccoli, all contain vitamin E. Germinated pulses and sprouts are another good dietary source.

Most people get enough vitamin E from their dietary intake unless they have problems with vitamin absorption in the intestine or are on a restricted diet.

What is the best time to take vitamin E?

The best time to take vitamin E supplements is along with lunch since the supplement is best absorbed with food and causes minimal bloating or acidity.

Vitamin E oil is often applied to the face for its regenerative uses. The best time to do so is often during the night because this nighttime skin ritual allows the vitamin to settle into the skin layers.

What happens if you take too much vitamin E?

The maximum dose for adults is 1,000 mg a day for supplements of either natural or synthetic vitamin E. Children, on the other hand, have a lower maximum dose.

Most evidence regarding the role of vitamin E in cancers, autoimmune diseases, dementia and cardiovascular diseases is insufficient. However, high vitamin E levels may often cause more harm than good. Individuals who take anticoagulants should particularly not take vitamin E supplements unless prescribed by a doctor because high doses of the vitamin may increase the risk of internal bleeding.

Vitamin E may interact with several drugs, causing undesirable adverse side effects. Additionally, the vitamin may interfere with chemotherapy or radiation therapy given against cancer, making them less effective.


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Medically Reviewed on 9/7/2021
Fairfield KM. Vitamin Supplementation in Disease Prevention. UpToDate. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/vitamin-supplementation-in-disease-prevention?search=vitamin%20E&source=search_result&selectedTitle=3~145&usage_type=default&display_rank=2

National Institutes of Health. Vitamin E. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminE-Consumer/