All About Vitamin E

Vitamin E is part of a large family composed of tocopherols and tocotrienols.

While alpha-tocopherol is officially recognized as vitamin E, it occurs as alpha, beta, gamma, delta tocopherol, and alpha, beta, gamma, delta tocotrienol.

Vitamin E plays a number of roles in the body, but its function as an antioxidant is the most well known.

The vitamin became better known when studies indicated a role for the prevention of atherosclerosis in 1945. Today, thousands of studies reveal a beneficial role for vitamin E.

Vitamin E Promotes Heart Health

Vitamin E plays an important role in cardiovascular health.

In a clinical trial, heart transplant patients given vitamin C along with vitamin E experienced less arterial thickening (a measure of cardiovascular health) compared to a placebo group after one year.1

In another trial, women supplementing with vitamin E had a lower risk of blood clots.2

Low Vitamin E Levels are Tied to Lung Cancer

The rapid loss of vitamin E from the blood that occurs in smokers has been hypothesized as a cause for lung cancer.3

Additionally, supplementation with vitamin E has been shown to reduce the risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in women.4

Vitamin E is Linked to a Longer Lifespan

Vitamin E is also associated with a longer life span.

A study revealed a 40% increase in average life span in mice supplemented with alpha-tocopherol.5 And in a study of male smokers, having a higher blood level of vitamin E was associated with a lower risk of dying from cancer or any cause.6

Vitamin E, along with vitamin C, improved survival in the thirty-day period following a heart attack in diabetic patients.7

Having a high blood level of alpha-tocopherol also improved survival among prostate cancer patients over two decades.8

Vitamin E Supports Brain Health

Vitamin E benefits the brain too. In fact. a double-blind trial showed a slower progression of Alzheimer’s disease in patients given 2,000 IU of vitamin E daily.9

And in a different study, Alzheimer's patients who supplemented with vitamin E were 26% less likely to die over five years compared to those who did not use the vitamin.10

Foods that Contain Vitamin E

Vitamin E is found in meat, poultry, eggs, grains, and vegetable oils; however, due to its role as a free radical scavenger, the amount contained in these foods diminishes with time, making supplementation a smart choice.

Tocopherols and tocotrienols are fat soluble, meaning that they dissolve in oils, and they are stored in the body. Supplementation is not needed as frequently as with water soluble vitamins.

Should You Supplement with Vitamin E?

Probably, although people with blood clotting disorders or who have been prescribed blood-thinning drugs should consult with their doctors before taking vitamin E.


  1. Lancet. 2002 Mar 30;359(9312):1108-13. 
  2. Circulation. 2007 Sep 25;116(13):1497-503. 
  3. Am J Clin Nutr. 2005 Jan;81(1):95-103. 
  4. American Thoracic Association 2010 International Conference. 2010 May 18. 
  5. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2005 Nov;289(5):R1392-9. 
  6. Am J Clin Nutr. 2006 Nov;84(5):1200-7. 
  7. Cardiology. 2009;112(3):219-23. 
  8. Cancer Res. 2009 May 1;69(9):3833-41. 
  9. JAMA. 2014 Jan 1;311(1):33-44. 
  10. American Academy of Neurology’s 60th Anniversary Annual Meeting, Chicago. 2008 April 12–19. Available at:


Rui de Castro said...

Avocado oil? Is it better than sunflower oil for vitamin E content (Toco and alpha).


Life Extension said...

Rui de Castro - Avocado oil is superior.

Unknown said...

Is it dangerious if i take 1200 IU of vitamin E Daily. I was told if you take more than 400 IU daily of vitaman E it could kill me? Is this true?

Life Extension said...

Unknown- Vitamin E does have a good safety record. However, studies of alpha-tocopherol alone, without the mix of other tocopherols and tocotrienols, has shown pro- oxidant rather than antioxidant activity in people consuming high doses (over 1000 mg). That's why it's very important to take vitamin E products that contain both tocopherols and tocotrienols. It's also always a good idea to discuss your supplement regimen and dosage with your doctor.

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