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Clinician’s Corner: Vitamin E

Vitamin E (tocopherol) is a fat-soluble vitamin with antioxidant properties; it protects cell membranes from oxidation and destruction. A few decades ago it was widely touted for everything, however lately its use has fallen out of favor. As an antioxidant, it protects cells from the damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are produced from the conversion of food to energy. People are also exposed to free radicals in the environment from cigarette smoke, air pollution, and ultraviolet light from the sun.

  • Source: there are 8 naturally tocopherols. The most active is d-alpha-tocopherol.
  • Dietary sources: Vegetable oils, wheat germ, leafy vegetables, egg yolk, margarine, legumes.

Cancer: The Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial (SELECT) was published in October 16, 2011 edition of The Journal of the American Medical Association.

  • 400 IUs /day & over significantly increased the risk of prostate cancer among healthy men when compared with healthy men taking placebo.

Dosage: Most sources do not recommend supplementing with more than 400iu of Vitamin E- d-alpha tocopherol.  Ask your Thompson Pharmacist before taking more than 400iu, especially if your are a male.

CAUTION: increased bleed risk with anticoagulants (warfarin).  High doses of Vitamin-E inhibit platelet stickiness, and significantly increase risk of bleeding.

Like all the fat-soluble vitamins, Vitamin-E is getting new labeling.  Here is what the conversions are between international units and micrograms. It does get confusing, so ask your Thompson Pharmacist.

dl-Alpha-tocopherol (blended)[synthetic]

INTERNATIONAL UNITS

(old labeling)

MICROGRAMS

(new labeling)

30iu 27mg
100iu 90mg
200iu 180mg
400iu 360mg
800iu 720mg
1000iu 900mg

d-Alpha-tocopherol (pure d-alpha) [natural]

INTERNATIONAL UNITS

(old labeling)

MICROGRAMS

(new labeling)

30iu 20.1mg
100iu 67mg
200iu 134mg
400iu 268mg
800iu 536mg
1000iu 670mg

A possible use for Vitamin-E: Treatment of fibrocystic breast disease:

There is a possible beneficial effect of vitamin E on breast pain in premenstrual women who experience breast pain that fluctuates during the menstrual cycle. One study showed a dose of Vitamin-E 200 IU twice daily for two months improved symptoms in women with cyclic breast pain. Minimal benefit was observed after 4 months.

As always ask your Thompson Pharmacist before taking any of the fat-soluble vitamins.  Go Ahead and ASK; at Thompson Pharmacy it’s all for YOU!