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Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin.
Vitamin E is an antioxidant that protects body tissue from damage caused by substances called free radicals. Free radicals can harm cells, tissues, and organs. They are believed to play a role in certain conditions related to aging.
The body also needs vitamin E to help keep the immune system strong against viruses and bacteria.
Vitamin E is also important in the formation of red blood cells and it helps the body use vitamin K. It also helps widen blood vessels and keep blood from clotting inside them.
Cells use vitamin E to interact with each other and carry out many important functions.
Whether vitamin E can prevent cancer, heart disease, dementia, liver disease, and stroke is still not known.
The best way to get the daily requirement of vitamin E is by eating food sources. Vitamin E is found in the following foods:
Products made from these foods, such as margarine, also contain vitamin E.
Eating vitamin E in foods is not risky or harmful. In supplement form, however, high doses of vitamin E might increase the risk for bleeding and serious bleeding in the brain.
High levels of vitamin E may also increase the risk of birth defects.
The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for vitamins reflect how much of each vitamin most people should get each day.
The Food and Nutrition Board at the Institute of Medicine Recommended Intakes for Individuals for vitamin E:
Infants (adequate intake of vitamin E)
Adolescents and Adults
Ask your health care provider which amount is best for you.
The highest safe level of vitamin E supplements for adults is 1,500 IU/day for natural forms of vitamin E, and 1,000 IU/day for the man-made (synthetic) form.
Escott-Stump S, ed. Nutrition and Diagnosis-Related Care. 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2008.
Sarubin Fragaakis A, Thomson C. The Health Professional's Guide to Popular Dietary Supplements. 3rd ed. Chicago, IL: American Dietetic Association; 2007.
Institute of Medicine, Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary Reference Intake: Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Selenium, and Carotenoids. National Academy Press, Washington, DC, 2000.