Is Taking Too Much Vitamin E Bad for You?

Vitamin E is an essential nutrient that provides a measure of protection to your cells so they're less susceptible to damage that can interfere with good health. The University of Maryland Medical Center notes that vitamin E might help protect you from heart disease and cancer, for example. You might think, then, that more is better, but that's not the case with vitamin E. Always ask your doctor before taking vitamin E supplements.

Vitamin E supplements are readily available in most health-food stores. Credit: gendesigner/iStock/Getty Images

Fat-Soluble Facts

Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin, which means that your body stores excess amounts rather than excreting them in your urine, like water-soluble vitamins such as vitamin C. If you regularly take in more vitamin E than your body needs and will use, it will begin to build up, potentially causing health problems. This only appears to be a problem, however, with vitamin E supplements, according to the National Institutes of Health. Consuming excess amounts of vitamin E from food doesn't appear to pose a danger, possibly because most people don't consume foods rich in vitamin E in excess.

How Much Is Enough and Where to Find It

Healthy adults should aim to include 15 milligrams, or 22.4 international units, of vitamin E in their daily diets. Eating a healthy and well-balanced diet is usually all it takes to consume sufficient amounts of vitamin E. The best source of vitamin E is wheat germ or wheat germ oil. Liver and eggs are additional sources of vitamin E, as are leafy green vegetables, sunflower seeds, nuts, vegetable oils, sweet potatoes, avocado, asparagus, yams, tomatoes, kiwi fruit and mango. If you're worried that you don't consume enough vitamin E, always speak to your doctor before taking a supplement.

Dangers of Too Much

Regularly overdoing it with vitamin E, in supplement form, can lead to certain health problems. According to the NIH, excess amounts of vitamin E can cause hemorrhaging and hemorrhagic stroke. The Linus Pauling Institute notes that this is because too much vitamin E might cause blood-clotting deficiencies. An analysis of 19 different studies regarding high amounts of vitamin E supplementation found that adults who regularly took 400 international units or more per day were 6 percent more likely to die from any cause compared to those who didn't consume too much vitamin E, according to the Linus Pauling Institute. A 2012 article in "U.S. News and World Report" notes that too much vitamin E, in supplement form, might increase the risk of prostate cancer in men.

Safe Upper Limits

The NIH notes that staying within tolerable upper limits of vitamin E can reduce the risk of negative side effects of consuming too much. Don't take any amount of vitamin E supplement without discussing it with your doctor first. Your doctor will be able to recommend an appropriate amount of vitamin E supplement, if you need it, based on your health history. The tolerable upper limit of vitamin E for adults is 1,000 milligrams, or 1,500 international units, per day, but your doctor will determine what a safe upper limit is for you.

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