VITAMIN E: Sources, Uses, Supplements and Toxicity

Vitamin E is one of the fat-soluble vitamins. There are several uses of vitamin E beneficial to the body. It is in the same class with vitamin A, vitamin D, and vitamin K. Vitamin E is found in many food including vegetable oil, cereals, meat, poultry, eggs etc. Poeple with low vitamin E can be tested and diagnosed of vitamin E deficiency. This can occur in people with certain genetic disorder and very low-weight premature infants.

Vitamin E is an antioxidant, which means it may help protect your cells from damage. People can get vitamin E as a dietary supplement, and sometimes in processed foods. Because Vitamin E is fat-soluble, your body can store it in body fats and use it as needed.

The term “vitamin E” describes eight different compounds. Alpha-tocopherol is the most active one in human. Researchers have investigated the use of vitamin E as treatment for a variety of degenerative diseases.


Vitamin E is in the family of fat soluble compounds. It occurs naturally in eight different forms including four tocopherols (alpha, beta, gamma and Delta) and four tocotrienols. Alapha tocopherols is the most common and most potent form of the vitamin. Vitamin E is found in plant-based oils, nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables.

Common sources of vitamin E include:

  • Wheat germ oil.
  • Sunflower.
  • Soybean oil.
  • Almonds.
  • Peanuts.
  • Green.
  • Spinach.
  • Pumpkin.
  • Red bell pepper.
  • Mango.
  • Avocado.

Uses of Vitamin E

  • Treating leakage of intravenous (iv) drugs from the vein into the surrounding skin and tissue: Applying vitamin E to the skin together with dimethylsulsufoxide (DMSO), seems to be effective for treating leakage of chemotherapy into surrounding tissues.
  • Treatment of beta-thalassemia: Taking  vitamin E by mouth seems to benefit children with the blood disorder called beta-thalassemia and vitamin E deficiency.
  • Nerve damage caused by cancer drug treatment: Taking vitamin E alpha tocopherols before and after treatment with the cancer drug cisplatin, might reduce the risk of nerve damage in the hands and feet. But taking vitamin E before and during treatment with the cancer drug oxaliplatin doesn’t seem to help.
  • Hardening of blood vessels in the kidney ( glomerulosis): There is some evidence that taking vitamin E by mouth might improve kidney function in children with glomerulosis.

Vitamin E Deficiency

Vitamin E plays some very important roles in the body. Deficiency in vitamin E can lead to problems in the body. It is helpful that you eat a healthy diet rich in vitamin E to prevent its deficiency.

Vitamin E deficiencies are rare. They’re more likely in people who have diseases, such as digestive problems and cystic fibrosis.

Low levels of Vitamin E in the body can lead to the following

  • Muscle weakness: vitamin E is essential to the central nervous system. It is among the body’s main antioxidants and a deficiency can result in oxidative stress, which can lead to muscle weakness.
  • Coordination and walking difficulties: A deficiency can cause certain neurons called the purkinje neurous to break down, harming their ability to transmit signals.
  • Vision deterioration: Vitamin E deficiency can weaken light receptors in the retina and other cells in the eyes. This can lead to loss of vision over time.
  • Immune system problems: Some research suggest that a lack of vitamin E can inhibit the immune cells. Older adults may be particularly at risk of this.

Vitamin E Supplements

Most people use vitamin E supplements in the hopes that the vitamins antioxidant properties will prevent or treat disease. But studies of vitamin E for preventing cancer, heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, cataracts and many other conditions have been disappointing.

So far, the only established benefits of vitamin E supplements are in people who have an actual Vitamin E deficiency.

Vitamin E Toxicity 

At very high doses, vitamin E can antagonize the functions of other fat-soluble vitamins. This can be corrected by taking dietary supplements of vitamins A, D, or K, as the case may be.

There are also isolated reports of negative effects in patients consuming up to 1000lu of Vitamin E per day. These effects include:

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