Vitamin E Supplements

Vitamin E benefitsVitamin E is a group of essential fat-soluble nutrients called tocopherols and tocotrienols. They are essential for stabilizing cell membranes, and work throughout all areas of the body:

  • Antioxidant Powers: Vitamin E is a fat soluble antioxidant, and it can fight free radicals and protect against oxidative damage in the lipid environments of the body (e.g. cell membranes, the brain, eyes, and DNA).
  • Immune Function: Low levels of vitamin E cause the immune system to shut down, and a diet high in vitamin E may protect against infections.
  • Blood Health: Vitamin E helps to prevent blood clots by promoting blood vessels relaxation and stops platelets from sticking together. It works alongside vitamin K to promote healthy clotting.
  • Growth, Repair & Function: Cellular differentiation and signaling require vitamin E – without adequate levels of vitamin E, the body may struggle to heal wounds or grow during growth spurts.

Vitamin E for Cardiovascular Health

For cardiovascular disease to take hold, there must be a perfect storm of:

  1. Excessive LDL “bad” cholesterol
  2. Oxidation of cholesterol carriers
  3. And damage to the endothelial lining of arteries

Vitamin E can help protect against all of these. In fact, studies have found that a higher intake of vitamin E is clearly associated with a lower risk and lower mortality rate from cardiovascular diseases, including heart attack, coronary artery stenosis, angina and atherosclerosis [2][3][4].

Vitamin E has been shown to:

  • Reduce LDL oxidation
  • Protect against damage to endothelial cells
  • Stop molecules that adhere or “stick” cholesterol to artery walls
  • Reduces platelets from forming clots
  • Helps arteries to dilate and remain flexible
  • Increases the expression of protective chemicals like nitric oxide and prostacyclin [5]

As a fat-soluble antioxidant, vitamin E can protect LDL cholesterol from oxidation and protect against endothelial damage [1].

  • A small study of 37 participants looked at the effects of vitamin E supplementation on cholesterol oxidation. Doses of 200mg and 400mg both significantly decreased LDL and HDL oxidation in vitro, and did not cause a rise in cholesterol levels [6].
  • The enzyme that controls cholesterol synthesis, HMG-CoA reductase, can be inhibited by tocotrienols [9]. By stopping this enzyme, vitamin E may be able to effectively lower cholesterol levels.

Tocopherols may also help to control blood pressure, which in turn can prevent damage to the endothelial lining.

  • A 2002 study showed that long-term supplementation of 200IU of vitamin E per day reduced systolic blood pressure by 24%, while a placebo group showed only a 1% reduction. Diastolic blood pressure was lowered by 12.5% in the vitamin E group, and only 6.2% in the placebo group. [7]

Vitamin E for Brain Health

As a rich, fat-soluble nutrient, vitamin E is active the in lipid-rich environment of the brain where it is able to protect neurons against oxidative damage, promote fluidity of brain cell membranes, and promote cell signalling.

This combination of actions may help to promote cognition, quick-thinking, and protect against dementia and neurodegenerative diseases.

  • One study concluded that for every 5mg increase of daily vitamin E intake, a significant 26% reduction in risk of Alzheimer’s disease is possible [8].Healthy levels of vitamin E, and possibly supplementation may also help to:
  • An in-depth review confirmed that long-term vitamin E supplementation is safe up to huge doses of 2,000IU per day in elderly patients, and that its intake can help to promote healthy brain ageing and delay functional decline from Alzheimer’s disease [16].
  • Prevent, and slow down the onset of symptoms of, motor neuron disease [18]
  • Protect against the onset of Parkinson’s disease and relieve some symptoms [19]
  • Reduce disease activity in multiple sclerosis [20]

Whether vitamin E supplementation has benefits in young, healthy populations hasn’t yet been confirmed. Animal studies indicate that it may help to boost memory, learning and cognition, but human trials are currently limited.

Vitamin E for Skin & Nails

As well as an effective oral antioxidant supplement, vitamin E is a powerful topical treatment to keep skin firm and promote healing. Its antibacterial actions work on the skin too, where it can help to clear up pathogens that cause acne break-outs. As a strong anti-inflammatory, vitamin E may also help to soothe red, itchy or tender skin conditions.

Oils and creams rich in vitamin E are available as standalone products, but many people use their vitamin E supplements for topical application too. Most vitamin E supplements come as capsules that contain the vitamin E isomers suspended within an oil. The capsules can be punctured with a pin, and vitamin E oil applied directly to the skin or the nail beds – easy!

Vitamin E has been shown to:

  • Protect against sunburn and topical application may speed up healing [24].
  • Soothe psoriasis: A popular European vitamin E cream has been shown to have a modest therapeutic effect on psoriasis compared to placebo [11].
  • Cause remission of atopic dermatitis: A dermatology study into the effects of vitamin E found that an oral dose of 400IU over 8 months completely cleared up symptoms of atopic dermatitis [10].
  • Speed up wound healing, particularly from burns when combined with vitamin C and zinc [12].
  • Reduce acne by destroying acne vulgaris bacteria, strengthening the skin and healing lesions [13]. Low levels of vitamin E have been correlated to severity of acne [14].
  • Treat yellowing nails
  • Relieve itchiness from rashes [15]

vitamin E in addition to collagen and hyaluronic acid make up a powerful skin health and anti-aging regimen.

Vitamin E and the Immune System

Vitamin E is essential for the fundamental functions of the immune system. It is needed for proper differentiation of immature T-cells in the thymus and protects against viral, bacterial and fungal infections. Studies have shown that vitamin E supplementation in the elderly boosts immune response, and protects against illness [21] and these effects may extend to younger populations, too.

  • Common Cold: Vitamin E supplementation may boost your protection against the common cold unless you’re a smoker – a study showed that people who smoked cigarettes and took vitamin E were more likely to develop a cold, while the vitamin E-only group was more protected than the general population [22].
  • Herpes Simplex Virus: Adequate levels of vitamin E have been shown to protect against HSV-1 proliferation and may help to control symptoms [23].
  • Lung conditions: A 2016 study showed that vitamin E levels were associated with healthy lung function and protection against respiratory conditions [17].

How to Take Vitamin E Supplements

Dosage: 400IU – 800IU per day


Vitamin E can act as a powerful blood thinner. Speak to your doctor before taking vitamin E if you take blood pressure medication (e.g. warfarin), or have a bleeding disorder including heavy periods.

STOP taking vitamin E at least 2 weeks before surgery. Tell your anaesthetic doctor and surgeon if you have taken vitamin E in the past month.


Vitamin E significantly interacts with the following medications:

  • NSAIDs
  • Chloroquine
  • Chlorpromazine
  • Propranolol
  • Doxorubicin
  • Nitrates

Speak to your doctor before taking vitamin E if you are on any of these medications.

Side Effects

Vitamin E is a very non-toxic vitamin and is not stored in the body like other fat-soluble vitamins. The upper tolerable limit is set at 1200IU per day before it will cause serious health risk in most people.

Very high experimental doses of >1200IU per day have been shown to cause:

  • Diarrhoea
  • Flatulence
  • Nausea
  • Heart burn Vitamin E is considered safe to take during pregnancy.
  • These are very uncommon at moderate doses.

Controversial Results for Vitamin E

In vitro studies are mostly in agreement that vitamin E has a huge potential in preventing and treating cardiovascular disease, but the results of intervention studies are mixed. Reasons for this include poor dose selection, with some studies using levels as low as the recommended dietary intake of 50mg per day, rather than a minimum therapeutic dose of 400 IU; the form of vitamin E used; and whether the participants in the studies had low blood levels of vitamin E before the intervention.

Synthetic tocopherols are often used in studies as they are cheaper to source. These synthetics have been shown to be less bioactive, and their use may skew the data.

Looking for natural vitamin E in your supplements? Look for d-alpha-tocopherol and other mixed d-tocopherols. Synthetic vitamin E usually contains “dl-alpha-tocopheryl” or similar.

Best 5 Vitamin E Supplements

#5 Nature’s Bounty E-Oil (30,000IU, 2.5 oz)

Vitamin E Oil

Nature’s Bounty produce one of the few uncapsuled vitamin E oils that can be taken orally. Every 5 drops delivers 100 IU of vitamin E, suspended in a blend of vegetable oils. The only issue with this product is that it contains dl-alpha tocopheryl acetate – synthetic vitamin E. This is still a good choice if you need to precisely control your dose or take large mega-doses under the instruction of a nutritionist or integrative doctor.

#4 Kate Blanc Vitamin E Oil (28,000IU, 1 oz)

Kate Blanc Vitamin E

If you are looking for a pure vitamin E oil for skincare and scar reduction, you’ve found it! This Kate Blanc vitamin E oil is so pure that it is thick and tacky like honey. Mix it with a carrier oil such as jojoba oil or coconut oil for general application as a moisturiser, or apply directly to closed wounds to reduce scarring. The vitamin E is extracted from safflower/sunflower oil and directly bottled – no fillers, thinners or carrier oils.

#3 Garden of Life Vitamin E (125IU, 20 Capsules)

Raw Vitamin E

This Garden of Life supplement has a moderate level of vitamin E – two capsules per day will deliver a good maintenance dose of 250IU along with beta-carotene, vitamin K, vitamin D and selenium. These nutrients are also blended with a probiotic blend, and a variety of raw organic fruit and veg powders which will deliver a wide range of synergistic nutrients. All of this is in a vegetarian-friendly cellulose capsule. This is a great choice if you’re looking for a multi-vitamin supplement that will deliver a good dose of vitamin E.

#2 Health Priority Vitamin E Oil (80%, 15mL)

Raw E

Health Priority have combined pure vitamin E d-alpha-tocopherol with organic jojoba oil, avocado oil, and rice bran oils to create this rich, nourishing blend that is easy to apply and absorbs completely. They also added gentle essential oils of lavender and palmarosa – and that’s it! This is a great choice if you’re looking for a simple vitamin E oil for skincare that is clean, completely non-GMO, cruelty free, made in the USA, and is delightful to use.

#1 Deva Vitamin E (400IU, 90 capsules)

Deva Vitamin E

Deva have encapsulated a high quality d-alpha-tocopherol along with 20mg of mixed natural tocopherols suspended in sunflower oil. Derived from non-GMO sunflower oil, packaged in a vegan-friendly capsule, and at a great price – this is a perfect choice if you’re looking for a clean, natural product that delivers a therapeutic dose with each capsule.

Further Reading:

About James Lyons

James Lyons (BHSc Nutritional Medicine) is a clinical nutritionist, medical writer, and educator. He specialises in plant-based nutrition and is passionate about improving public access to reliable and accurate health information.

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