Organic Vitamin E Toxicity

by Sarah Terry

Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin that’s also a powerful antioxidant. There are several different types of vitamin E, including a natural or organic kind. Taking too much vitamin E -- even the organic kind -- can cause toxicity that may lead to serious health dangers. Before you begin taking a vitamin E supplement, consult your doctor about the safest dosage for you.

Function

Vitamin E has several important functions, including antioxidant and immune-system supporting actions. Vitamin E also helps to preserve the strength of your cell’s membranes. Vitamin E’s antioxidant actions help to protect your body’s cells from damage due to free radicals, explains the University of Maryland Medical Center. The vitamin supports red blood cell formation and vitamin K utilization in the body, as well.

Types

You can get vitamin E from your diet, specifically from foods such as wheat germ, eggs, nuts, liver, vegetable oils, dark-green leafy vegetables, sweet potatoes and yams, asparagus, and avocados, says the University of Maryland Medical Center. Vitamin E is also available as supplements. The two major types of vitamin E are natural -- RRR-alpha-tocopherol -- and synthetic -- all-rac-alpha-tocopherol -- notes the University of Michigan Health System. Your body can absorb the natural or organic forms of vitamin E supplements up to twice as much as the synthetic forms.

Amounts

The recommended daily intake of vitamin E from your diet is 15 milligrams for teenagers and adults, 19 milligrams for breastfeeding women, 11 milligram for adolescents 9 to 13 years old, 7 milligrams for children 4 to 8 years old, and 6 milligrams for 1- to 3-year-old children. Because organic vitamin E supplements have greater bioavailability in your body than synthetic supplements, the recommended dosages are often adjusted accordingly, notes the University of Michigan Health System. Vitamin E supplements are measured in international units -- IU -- and are typically the equivalent of much higher doses than are recommended as normal daily intake from your diet. Therapeutic dosages of vitamin E can range from 50 to 1,000 IU, says the University of Maryland Medical Center. Don’t take any amount of natural or synthetic vitamin E without first consulting your doctor.

Warning

The maximum intake level of organic vitamin E supplements is about 1,500 IU -- equivalent to about 1,000 milligrams -- per day, says the University of Maryland Medical Center. Toxicity can occur if you take vitamin E supplements in amounts that exceed this upper limit. Because vitamin E is fat-soluble, it’s retained in your body instead of being released through your urine, and it can build up to potentially toxic levels. A daily intake of more than 1,000 milligrams of vitamin E from diet and organic supplements can cause nausea, diarrhea, gas, vision disturbances, muscle weakness and fatigue. Long-term supplementation with excessive amounts of vitamin E can increase your risks of death, warns the University of Michigan Health System.

Uses

Supplementation with organic vitamin E may help a variety of medical conditions, in addition to providing dietary support. Vitamin E supplements are most commonly recommended for treating a deficiency, but they’re also sometimes used to help treat burns, epilepsy in children, rheumatoid arthritis, intermittent claudication and tardive dyskinesia, says the University of Michigan Health System. You might also take natural vitamin E supplements to help treat diabetes, menstrual pain, preeclampsia, eye conditions, photodermatitis and Alzheimer’s disease, as well as to help to prevent cancer and heart disease, notes the University of Maryland Medical Center. Talk with your doctor before taking organic vitamin E to treat or prevent any medical condition.

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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.