alpha tocopherol, alpha-tocopherol, tocotrienol, 5,7,8 trimethyl-tocotrienol
Vitamin E is a series of fat-soluble compounds called tocopherols. Fat-soluble means it can dissolve in fats and oils. Alpha-tocopherol is the most potent and widely used form of vitamin E. Tocopherols are found in the oily residue of plants. They’re also found in plants and have vitamin E-like effects.
Vitamin E is a major antioxidant in the body. It works with selenium to help prevent the breakdown of certain enzymes that are vital to the body's metabolism. Vitamin E is found in all cell membranes of the body. It protects them from oxidative damage.
Vitamin E has been used to treat respiratory distress syndrome in preterm babies. Vitamin E prevents disease of the retina (retrolental fibroplasia) in preterm babies on oxygen. Vitamin E is a potent antioxidant in the human body. It helps the immune system fight infections. It widens blood vessels. This helps to keep clots from forming in them.
There may be benefits that have not yet been proven through research.
Vitamin E may protect the body from environmental hazards. Most research shows that vitamin E doesn't help prevent cancer. And it may be harmful in some cases. Vitamin E supplements and other antioxidants might change the effects of chemotherapy and radiation therapy. People having these treatments should talk with their healthcare provider or oncologist before taking vitamin E or other supplements.
The results of research are not certain on if vitamin E alone, or with other antioxidants, can help prevent age-related macular degeneration. A supplement with large doses of vitamin E plus other antioxidants, zinc, and copper showed good results for slowing down the rate of vision loss. Vitamin E may help:
Treat cystic fibrosis
Treat breast disease
Treat leg muscle pains
Improve wound healing
Prevent heart disease
Improve sexual function
Prevent Alzheimer's disease
Vitamin E is measured in both International Units (IU) and milligrams (mg). RDA is the Recommended Dietary Allowance.
Infants (0–6 months)*
Infants (6 months to 1 year)*
Children (1–3 years)
Children (4–8 years)
Children (9–13 years)
Children and adults (14 years and older)
* Adequate Intake (AI)
Vitamin E is a thick, yellowish oil. It's sold as a soft oral capsule. It comes in strengths from 100–1,000 IU. It also comes as a chewable tablet and an oral solution. The strength of the oral solution is 50 mg/ml. Vitamin E oil is also available.
You should swallow vitamin E capsules whole. Don’t chew them. It is best absorbed when eaten with some fat.
Nutrient content per 100 grams
Vitamin E is stable at room temperature. It doesn’t need to be refrigerated. It isn’t destroyed by cooking. It stays active in foods that have been frozen.
Vitamin E is also stable in light and in acid and alkali.
You may need more vitamin E if you have any of these:
A malabsorption syndrome with steatorrhea (excess fat in the stool)
Tropical and nontropical sprue
Cholestatic liver disease
Surgery to remove all or part of the pancreas (pancreatectomy)
You may also need more vitamin E if you:
Are over age 55
You drink moderate to heavy amounts of alcohol
Have chronic alcoholism
Have a liver disease, such as cirrhosis
Vitamin E deficiency can cause nerve and muscle damage. This causes:
Loss of feeling in the arms and legs
Loss of body movement control
It can also weaken the immune system. It may cause an increased risk for hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), cancer, and cataracts.
People who are pregnant or breastfeeding may need to take supplements. But talk to your healthcare provider before doing so.
Symptoms of vitamin E deficiency in newborn babies include:
Disease of the retina (retinopathy)
Vitamin E is a relatively safe vitamin. Vitamin E is fat soluble and can build up in the tissues of the body. But this is rare. Symptoms of too much vitamin E include:
Vitamin E can increase the effects of oral blood-thinning medicines (anticoagulants). This may cause an increased clotting time and bleeding. Bleeding is the greatest risk from vitamin E toxicity.
Large doses of vitamin E can decrease your body's vitamin A reserves.