Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin that's primarily recommended for its antioxidant properties to minimize the damage from free radicals and protect the cells of your body. Many studies suggest that people who take vitamin E naturally or as supplements in the recommended dosage range (7-15 mg per day) have a lower incidence of cardiovascular diseases, dementia, cancer, and other diseases.
"Take your vitamins!" is a call to action that has been passed down generations. But do vitamins have any side effects? Well, any supplement or drug when consumed over the recommended dosage can have side effects. In fact, several studies have indicated that higher than normal vitamin E supplementation can actually lead to an increase in all-cause mortality!
Wondering what are the side effects of vitamin E? Let's find out.
What Are the Side Effects of Vitamin E?
According to the National Institute of Health, an average adult should consume a maximum of 15 mg of vitamin E. So in this section, we will discuss vitamin E side effects when it is consumed orally daily as a supplement in high doses and how it can aggravate some health conditions.
1. Consumption risks over the recommended limit
Consumption limit primarily varies according to age and gender. If you're starting vitamin E supplements, make sure you consult your doctor first.
- Consumption risks according to demographic
In adults: Doses higher than 400 units can cause long-term vitamin E side effects such as blurred vision, dizziness, tiredness, stomach cramps, and diarrhea.
For pregnant women: During pregnancy, vitamin E supplements in doses recommended by your healthcare professional can be safe. However, there has been some evidence that high doses of vitamin E during the early stages of pregnancy can harm your fetus, as high doses of this vitamin disrupt the functions of the placenta, depriving the fetus of essential nutrients. Self-medicating with high doses have also been linked to stillbirths and babies born with a compromised immune system. Pregnancy is a delicate stage in your life - consider consulting a physician before incorporating any supplements in your diet at this time.
For children: Vitamin E dosage for children (to be taken orally) depends on their age. For example, less than 4 mg is recommended for infants 0-6 months; a maximum of 5 mg is recommended for infants 7-12 months, and 7 mg is the upper limit for children 4-8 years. Overdosing can lead to side effects such as muscle weakness, headaches, gastric distress, and easy bruising and bleeding. What's more, vitamin E is considered harmful when administered through IV to infants in high doses.
- Manifestation and aggravation of some diseases
When taking vitamin E as a daily supplement, please keep in mind your medical history and dosage.
Heart failure in individuals with diabetes: If you have diabetes, vitamin E can potentially increase your chances of heart failure, according to the results of a 7-year-long study. Not only did vitamin E supplements not help reduce the chances of cardiovascular diseases but the researchers noted that hospitalization rates for heart failure increased by 13%-17%.
Worsens prostate cancer: Researchers are trying to find out whether vitamin E supplements can help prevent prostate cancer. However, some scholars found that the vitamin, in fact, has an opposite effect - vitamin E seems to worsen the condition in men.
Aggravates clotting problems: Vitamins K-1 and K-2 produce proteins that help in blood clotting. Adequate coagulation or clotting prevents internal and external bleeding. If higher than normal doses of vitamin E is consumed by an individual suffering from vitamin K deficiency, this can aggravate coagulation problems.
Speeds up vision loss in people with retinitis pigmentosa: Synthetic vitamin E (All-rac-alpha-tocopherol) fast tracks vision loss in people suffering from retinitis pigmentosa, a genetic disorder that leads to the breakdown and loss of cells in the retina.
2. Application side effects
Because of its antioxidant properties, vitamin E is an ingredient in many beauty products. Moreover, many people use vitamin E oil directly to boost the health of their skin. It is generally used as a moisturizer to soothe and prevent dry, rough, and scaly skin. However, usage over the recommended limit can lead to burning, stinging, itchiness, and redness and aggravation of existing issues such as rosacea. Lastly, avoid applying vitamin E on acne-prone skin as this can lead to more breakouts.
Recommended Dosage to Prevent Side Effects
Vitamin E is safe to consume when taken in the right dose and in cohesion with a corresponding medical condition or deficiency. In this section, we will talk about the optimal vitamin E dosage to prevent long-term side effects.
- Regular dosage for adults
For vitamin E deficiency: The recommended dosage is 40-50 mg per day of natural vitamin E (RRR-alpha-tocopherol)
For tardive dyskinesia: To heal this neurological problem, the typical vitamin E (RRR-alpha-tocopherol) dosage is 400-1070 mg daily.
For sickle cell anemia: 300 mg of vitamin E is recommended for this condition
For rheumatoid arthritis: The typical dose for this is 400 mg twice per day.
- Pediatric dosage
For vitamin E deficiency: The recommended dosage is 0.5 mg of water-miscible vitamin E (to be taken orally) per day.
For cystic fibrosis: The typical dosage is 65-250 mg per day (to be taken orally).
For retinopathy prophylaxis: For maintaining plasma levels between 1.5 to 2 mcg/mL, 3 to 20 mg is recommended per day.
While vitamin E can speed up the healing process of certain diseases, it's important to limit consumption to the recommended dosage. More of a good thing does not always yield favorable results, and this is true of vitamins as well. Ensure that you undergo proper diagnosis and incorporate it according to your physician's recommendation to prevent vitamin E side effects.