What are the warnings for vitamin E supplements?

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Vitamin E is an anticoagulant (anti = against, coagulant = causes clotting), which means that it inhibits platelets (fragments of cells used in blood clotting) from unnecessarily clumping together and creating a damaging clot in your bloodstream. Vitamin E also alters the stickiness of the cells that line your lymph and blood vessels. This decreases the ability of blood components to stick to these walls and clog these passageways.

There isn’t any known risk of consuming too much vitamin E from natural food sources. Overconsumption of the synthetic form that is found in supplements and/or fortified foods could pose risks.

Because vitamin E can act as an anticoagulant and interfere with blood clotting, excess amounts in your body increase the risk of hemorrhage. Because of this, the upper level from supplements and/or fortified foods is 1,000 milligrams for adults. This applies only to healthy individuals consuming adequate amounts of vitamin K. (Vitamin K also plays a role in blood clotting. A deficiency of vitamin K can exacerbate the anticoagulant effects of vitamin E.) Individuals taking anticoagulant medication and vitamin E supplements should be monitored by their physician to avoid the serious situation in which the blood can’t clot quickly enough to stop the bleeding from a wound.

While the upper level of 1,000 milligrams was set to keep you safe, it may actually be too high. A study showed that those at risk of heart disease who took 400 IU (265 milligrams) or more of vitamin E daily for at least one year had an overall higher risk of dying. One theory is that too much vitamin E may disrupt the balance of other antioxidants in the body, causing more harm than good.

You should always meet with a registered dietitian (RD) before taking a supplement to make sure that it is appropriate for you based on your diet and medical history. You can find an RD in your area at: www.eatright.org.

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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.