Many of the health benefits of vitamin E can be attributed to its antioxidant effects. As an antioxidant, this vitamin helps prevent the formation of free radicals, damaging molecules or atoms that can start a chain reaction of cellular damage. Free radicals play a role in various age-related conditions, such as cancer and heart disease.
There are eight different types of vitamin E, some of which are more active than others. The most active form is known as alpha-tocopherol, and there are two different forms. The natural form (which occurs in foods) is known as d-alpha-tocopherol or RRR-alpha-tocopherol. The synthetic (manufactured) form is known as dl-alpha-tocopherol or all-rac-alpha-tocopherol. Vitamin E supplements may contain either or both types. The natural form is said to be about twice as active as the synthetic form.
Some people think that natural vitamin E is better for various uses compared to synthetic vitamin E, but research has not supported such claims.
Vitamin E Use in Children
Vitamin E is safe for children when taken in amounts that do not exceed the recommended amounts. It is not known if higher doses of vitamin E are beneficial or safe for children.
Written by/reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last reviewed by: KristiMonson, PharmD;
List of references (click here):
Jellin JM, editor. Pharmacist's Letter/Prescriber's Letter Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Web site. Available at: http://naturaldatabase.com/. Accessed February 1, 2008.
National Institutes of Health. Office of Dietary Supplements. Dietary supplement fact sheet: Vitamin E (1/23/2007). NIH Web site. http://dietary-supplements.info.nih.gov/factsheets/vitamine.asp. Accessed February 1, 2008.
Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine. Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin E, and Carotenoids. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 2000. Available at: http://www.nap.edu/books/0309069351/html/. Accessed February 1, 2008.
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