By Alice || Edited by Go Ask Alice Editorial Team || Last edited Jun 06, 2024
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Alice! Health Promotion. "How much vitamin E is safe to consume daily?." Go Ask Alice!, Columbia University, 06 Jun. 2024, https://goaskalice.columbia.edu/answered-questions/how-much-vitamin-e-safe-consume-daily. Accessed 22, Jun. 2024.

Alice! Health Promotion. (2024, June 06). How much vitamin E is safe to consume daily?. Go Ask Alice!, https://goaskalice.columbia.edu/answered-questions/how-much-vitamin-e-safe-consume-daily.

Dear Alice,

I've been taking a daily supplement of 400 IUs of vitamin E. I recently bought a bottle of 1000 IUs, and a friend told me that that's too much to take, and could even be bad for me. Is that true?

Dear Reader, 

Taking supplements can be one way to get additional nutrients that you may not get through food. Vitamin E supplements, in particular, may help prevent inflammation and improve immune function. However, the amount that each person is recommended to take largely depends on their dietary needs and other medications they may be taking. 

Vitamin E is a nutrient that has antioxidant properties, which means it may protect against cell damage in the body. It plays a role in preventing cardiovascular diseases, neurological conditions, metabolic disorders, and some cancers. Vitamin E also helps to reduce inflammation. Being deficient in vitamin E can lead to decreased immunity, breakdown of blood cells, or loss of muscle control. While vitamin E deficiency is rare, you may be more likely to be deficient if your body has trouble absorbing fat. 

There are many chemical forms of vitamin E, however, the form known as alpha-tocopherol is often the most useful for humans. This form can be found naturally in foods like nuts, seeds, vegetable oils, leafy greens, dairy products, eggs, and even fruits and berries. It also might be added to some cereals, or found in grains like wheat, millet, quinoa. However, if you’re getting your vitamin E from vegetable oils, be mindful of how these oils are used. Oil that’s overheated by the sun or being reused may degrade the vitamin E concentration. 

While food is often the primary source of vitamin E, it can also be found in supplement form which is made synthetically in a lab. Supplements can be useful if you’re not getting enough vitamin E from your food, but the amount you’re taking can have different effects on your health. It’s also important to note that synthetic vitamin E is often less effective than natural vitamin E, even if the same amount is consumed. 

Vitamins are usually measured in milligrams (mg), which is recommended by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). International Units (IU) are also sometimes used to describe how much of the active vitamin is in something. In adults, the recommended daily dose of vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) is around 15 mg, which is equal to 33.3 IU of the synthetic form. This means that taking either a 400 IU or 1000 IU supplement will exceed this amount. However, food consumption varies by person and therefore the dose you take may also be influenced by how much (or little) vitamin E you may already be ingesting through food. 

Even with that recommended dosage stated, studies focused on vitamin E supplement consumption have found mixed results for taking doses that are higher than recommended. Some of these studies have shown benefits in some groups but increased risk of bleeding in others. It’s been noted that some people taking vitamin E have also experienced interactions with blood clotting medications or radiotherapy and chemotherapy. 

Finally, it’s good to be aware that the amount of vitamin E in each pill can vary greatly because the FDA doesn't regulate dietary supplements. That is, your 400 or 1000 IU supplements may contain much more or much less than what’s listed on the label. All that said, speaking with a health care provider or registered dietitian might help determine what dose or form of vitamin E works best for you.  

Additional Relevant Topics:

Nutrition and Physical Activity
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