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Are vitamin E pills and other antioxidant supplements safe?

When taken under a doctor's supervision and at safe doses, vitamin E pills and other antioxidant supplements may be helpful. Antioxidants are nutrients that can help protect your body against the effects of free radicals, which are volatile molecules that may cause damage to DNA or even cell death. Some antioxidant nutrients include vitamins A, C and E, selenium, beta-carotene, lutein and lycopene. Supplements of these nutrients may be especially helpful for people who can't absorb enough of these nutrients from the foods they eat.

Taken in too high doses or in combination with certain drugs, however, supplements of these nutrients may be risky. For example, vitamin E may increase the risk of excessive bleeding, especially if you take blood thinners. It may also interact with other medications, making them less effective. High doses of vitamin E during pregnancy may increase risks of birth defects. Consult your doctor before taking supplements of vitamin E or any dietary supplement.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.