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Vitamin E is key for strong immunity and healthy skin and eyes. In recent years, vitamin E supplements have become popular as antioxidants. These are substances that protect cells from damage. However, the risks and benefits of taking vitamin E supplements are still unclear.

Why do people take vitamin E?

Many people use vitamin E supplements in the hopes that the vitamin's antioxidant properties will prevent or treat disease. But studies of vitamin E for preventing cancer, heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, cataracts, and many other conditions have been inconclusive.

So far, the only established benefits of vitamin E supplements are in people who have an actual deficiency. Vitamin E deficiencies are rare. They're more likely in people who have diseases, such as digestive problems and cystic fibrosis. People on very low-fat diets may also have low levels of vitamin E.

How much vitamin E should you take?

The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) includes the vitamin E you get from both the food you eat and any supplements you take.

Category

Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol): Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA)

in milligrams (mg) and International Units (IU)

CHILDREN

1-3 years

6 mg/day (9 IU)

4-8 years

7 mg/day (10.4 IU)

9-13 years

11 mg/day (16.4 IU)

FEMALES

14 years and up

15 mg/day (22.4 IU)

Pregnant

15 mg/day (22.4 IU)

Breastfeeding

19 mg/day (28.5 IU)

MALES

14 years and up

15 mg/day (22.4 IU)

The tolerable upper intake levels of a supplement are the highest amount that most people can take safely. Higher doses might be used to treat vitamin E deficiencies. But you should never take more unless a doctor says so.

Category

(Children & Adults)

Tolerable Upper Intake Levels (UL) of

Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol)

in milligrams (mg) and International Units (IU)

1-3 years

200 mg/day (300 IU)

4-8 years

300 mg/day (450 IU)

9-13 years

600 mg/day (900 IU)

14-18 years

800 mg/day (1,200 IU)

19 years and up

1,000 mg/day (1,500 IU)

Because vitamin E is fat-soluble, supplements are best absorbed with food.

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