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A Necessary But Controversial Supplement

A Necessary But Controversial Supplement

Brown glass bottle and pills on black table, close up

The American Heart Association recommends obtaining antioxidants, including vitamin E, by eating a well balanced diet high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains rather than from supplements. For those unable to receive the benefits of natural foods, however, supplements offer the best alternative.

Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin found in many foods, fats, and oils. NHS Heroes It is also an antioxidant, a substance that may help prevent damage to the body’s cells. Antioxidants may provide protection against serious diseases including heart disease and cancer.

Vitamin E is also important in helping your body make red blood cells, and it helps the body to use vitamin K.

People who can’t absorb fat properly may develop vitamin E deficiency. Symptoms of serious vitamin E deficiency include:

Muscle weakness
Loss of muscle mass
Abnormal eye movements
Vision problems
Unsteady walking
If “E” deficiency lasts a long time, it may also cause liver and kidney problems. Although most people in the United States aren’t seriously deficient in vitamin E, many people may have slightly low levels.

Although most of the research remains inconclusive, and ongoing studies are necessary, what IS known has prompted some physicians to prescribe, and some people to use vitamin E for treating and preventing a variety of conditions. The following are some of the most common uses.

> In addition to specific medications, Vitamin E is also used for those with diseases of the heart and blood vessels, including hardening of the arteries. Some benefits have been suggested for use with heart attacks, chest pain, leg pain due to blocked arteries, and high blood pressure.

***Many population studies have found that people with higher levels of vitamin E in their bodies have a lower risk of heart disease. So researchers investigated whether taking vitamin E supplements might help prevent heart disease. But the results have not shown that vitamin E helps. One large clinical study, however, suggested that vitamin E from foods — not supplements — may reduce the risk of death from stroke in postmenopausal women.

>Vitamin E is also used for treating diabetes and its complications, for prevention of some cancers, particularly lung and oral cancer in smokers; colorectal cancer and polyps; and gastric, prostate, and pancreatic cancer. Researchers note that taking antioxidant supplements may not work as well as eating antioxidant foods. Many experts believe getting antioxidants from foods may be the best way to protect against cancer.

People with diabetes tend to have low levels of antioxidants, which has led some researchers to theorize that this might explain why they’re at increased risk for conditions such as heart disease.

Vitamin E supplements and other antioxidants may help reduce the risk of heart disease and other complications in people with diabetes. Research shows that antioxidants may help control blood sugar levels and lower cholesterol levels in people with type 2 diabetes while protecting against the complications of eye damage (retinopathy) and kidney damage (nephropathy) in those with type 1 diabetes. One study found that people with type 2 diabetes who took 400 IU of vitamin E daily reduced their risk of heart attack and of dying from heart disease.

>Similar recommendations have been suggested for use in treating certain diseases of the brain and nervous system including Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias and Parkinson’s disease.

>Night cramps, restless leg syndrome, and for other disorders involving nerves and muscles.

>Some women are prescribed vitamin E for premenstrual syndrome (PMS), painful periods, menopausal syndrome, hot flashes associated with breast cancer, and breast cysts. Some studies suggest that taking vitamin E along with vitamin C may help prevent pre-eclampsia in women who are at high risk. Women with pre-eclampsia have high blood pressure and too much protein in the urine. Pre-eclampsia is a common cause of premature births. Not all studies agree, however.

Often, it is recommended (with good results) to lessen the harmful effects of medical treatments such as dialysis and radiation. Some people apply vitamin E to their skin to keep it from aging and to protect against the skin effects of chemicals used for cancer therapy (chemotherapy).

Dietary Sources:

The richest source of vitamin E is wheat germ. One tablespoon of Wheat Germ Oil provides 100% of the daily recommenced value, as developed by the Food And Drug Administration (FDA).

Other foods that contain a significant amount of vitamin E include:

Nuts — almonds, hazelnuts, and walnuts
Sunflower seeds
Corn-oil margarine
Cold-pressed vegetable oils, including olive, corn, safflower, soybean, cottonseed, and canola
Dark green leafy vegetables like spinach and kale
Greens — beet, collard, mustard, turnip
Sweet potatoes
*Risks. Vitamin E supplements have unclear benefits and risks. So don’t use them in high doses or for the long term unless your doctor suggests it.

*Side effects. Topical vitamin E can irritate the skin. Overdoses of vitamin E supplements can cause nausea, headache, bleeding, fatigue, and other symptoms.


Always check with your doctor before taking vitamin E supplements. Vitamin E may increase the risk of bleeding, especially if you are taking blood-thinners such as warfarin (Coumadin), aspirin, or clopidogrel (Plavix).

Possible Interactions:

***If you are being treated with any of the following medications, you should not use vitamin E supplements without first talking to your health care provider:

Antidepressant medications

Antipsychotic medications

Aspirin — Because vitamin E can increase the risk of bleeding, people who take aspirin should talk to their doctor before taking vitamin E

Warfarin (Coumadin) — Taking vitamin E at the same time as other blood-thinners can increase the risk of bleeding.

AZT – a medication used to treat HIV and AIDS.

Beta-blockers — This type of medication is used to treat high blood pressure. Vitamin E interferes with the body’ s absorption of certain kindsof beta-blockers.

Medications, such as “statins” which are used to lower cholesterol may reduce how much vitamin E your body absorbs. Statins include:

Lovastatin (Mevacor)
Simvastatin (Zocor)
Pravastatin (Pravachol)
Atorvastatin (Lipitor)
Fluvastatin (Lescol)
Rosuvastatin (Crestor)
Gemfibrozil — This medication, used to lower cholesterol, may also reduce vitamin E levels.

Chemotherapy drugs — Some doctors worry that antioxidants like vitamin E may reduce the effectiveness of chemotherapy drugs. Talk to your oncologist before taking vitamin E or any supplement.

Be SAFE, while staying healthy…If you think you need Vitamin E, or any other supplement in your diet, speak to your healthcare practitioner FIRST.

To your good health!

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