Vitamin E (Tocopherol)

Description Vitamin E is a family of fat soluble vitamin substances which include both tocopherols and tocotrienols.
Function/ Used for Vitamin E acts as an antioxidant helping to neutralise potentially damaging free radicals in the body.

Vitamin E is particularly important for the protection of cell membranes as well as maintaining healthy skin, heart and circulation, nerves, muscles and red blood cells.

Intake Recommended intake

EU NRV: 12mg


UK average daily intake

Requirements vary depending on age and gender. The UK National Diet and Nutrition Survey lists up-to-date intake requirements and average intakes1.

As a supplement Available as a single supplement. Also commonly available as part of a multivitamin and mineral formula.

Different multivitamin and minerals products will vary in the percentage NRVs they include. People should always check the label for information about a specific product.

Found in (dietary sources) Seed oils, and the outer germ of cereals are the richest sources of vitamin E as well as olive oil, avocado pear, muesli, nuts, leafy green vegetables, wholemeal bread, cereals and egg yolks.

Vitamin E is not very stable and is readily lost during storage and cooking, particularly if there is significant exposure to heat and oxygen.

Deficiency None known.
Precautions and contraindications Vitamin E supplements should be avoided by patients  taking oral anticoagulants and by patients with iron deficiency anaemia and hyperthyroidism.

Safe Upper Level: 540mg/day2

Use in pregnancy and breastfeeding There is no evidence of adverse effects in pregnancy at normal intakes.
Interactions e.g. with other medications Prolonged use of oral contraceptives may reduce blood levels of vitamin E.

The weight loss drug orlistat and cholesterol-lowering drugs can reduce the absorption of vitamin E and other fat-soluble vitamins (A, D and K).

Vitamin E supplements may affect blood coagulation and should be avoided by patients taking oral anticoagulants such as warfarin (blood thinners).3

Adverse effects Vitamin E is relatively non-toxic. Large doses in excess of 1000mg daily for prolonged periods have occasionally been associated with increased bleeding tendency in vitamin K-deficient patients; and rarely, blurred vision, diarrhoea, dizziness, fatigue and weakness, headache and nausea.3
References 1.

2.     Expert Group on Vitamins and Minerals, 2003.

3.     Mason, P. Dietary Supplements. Pharmaceutical Press, London, 2001.

4.     Gaby, A. R. A-Z Guide to Drug-Herb-Vitamin Interactions. HealthNotes 2006.