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Although vitamin E supplements and oils have long been praised for helping manage and reduce the risk of a host of chronic conditions, including cancers and Alzheimer’s diseases, high hopes may soon take a tumble. The pill may not deliver as much as purported, which is why you don’t need to take it unless recommended by your doctor.

Walking around cosmetic stores, you will realize that the shelves are heavily packed with many products that claim to have a certain amount of vitamin E. This follows the hype and the haze that has surrounded vitamin E pills. For a long time, people have been led to believe that vitamin E oil and pills helps with a range of conditions, including some forms of cancer, age-related vision problems and skin conditions, and neurodegenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s disease. How true are these claims? Keep reading this article to know the truth about vitamin E, including how much you need and the common myths surrounding it.

Free radicals and antioxidants

While it is true that vitamin E helps your body to some extent by stabilizing the immune system and keeping the blood vessels healthy, the real benefits lie heavily in the sea-saw balance between free radicals and antioxidants. Free radicals refer to unstable molecules found in the body, which should typically be less dangerous but turn lethal when they accumulate and cause oxidative stress. They are molecules with free electrons and lack a pair. As such, the molecules move about in the cells, negatively interacting with the body. This state of instability continues, and more cells are damaged. Consequently, the body becomes exposed to several chronic conditions, including cancer, diabetes type 2, and heart disease.

Thankfully, research has shown that antioxidants can help the body fight free radicals. Antioxidants, including vitamins C and E, neutralize these molecules by generating the missing electron and donating it to the molecules. This helps remedy the situation and counteracts the effect of oxidative stress. Nonetheless, free radicals are still potentially dangerous, mainly because they are generated in and out of the body. Processes like metabolism and digestion produce these molecules, and so does the exposure to tobacco smoke, ozone, radiation, and environmental pollution. Most foods we eat have vitamins C and E, thereby helping the produce more antioxidants.

How much vitamin E does the body need?

The question about how much vitamin E the body needs is critical and needs to be addressed. Technically, you should have enough vitamin E in your body as long as you take enough fat-rich foods. However, exposure to the sun’s UV rays, pollutants, and other factors make it essential to have more of the vitamin. According to the American Institute of Health (AIH), here are the amounts of vitamin E needed by different groups of people per day;

  • Infants – 4-5 g
  • 1-3-year-old kids- 6 g
  • 4 – 8-year-old children- 7 g
  • 9-13-year-old children- 11 g
  • Adults (male & female)- 15 g
  • Pregnant women- 15 g
  • Breastfeeding women- 19 g

As shown above, breastfeeding women need the highest amounts of vitamin E.

Do you really need vitamin E pills?

Do you really need vitamin E pills? This is a critical question, bearing in mind that these capsules are expensive. The answer is no unless recommended by your doctor. Actually, the foods you eat, especially if you include fats in your diet, are enough to provide the needed vitamin E. Vegetable oils, including safflower, wheat germ, sunflower, and avocados, and other fats, nuts, and seeds are good sources of vitamin E. As if that’s not enough, fruit juices are fortified with the vitamin, adding more to what the body already has.

The myths surrounding vitamin E oils and pills

Since vitamin E oils and pills were introduced in the market, the myths and misconceptions surrounding these supplements have been on the rise. Are there any truths to such claims? Here are some commonest claims about vitamin E oils and pills.

  • Vitamin E supplements help reduce the risk of heart disease

For a long time, people have been led into believing that vitamin E pills can help reduce the risk of heart disease. In fact, as the cosmetic industries dealing in the supplements market them, they list the heart as one organ that greatly benefits from the supplements. However, one study lasting 8 years closely monitored more than 14,000 US males taking the supplements. At the end of the study, there was no indication that the cardiovascular system benefited from the pills. Instead, there were indicators of higher stroke risk.

  • Vitamin E pills help promote skin healing

The other major claim about vitamin E pills is that they can help the body heal its wounds faster. As much as this idea is widely purported and several studies seem to support it, the largest and the most reputable bodies have conducted their research and concluded that the vitamin does not affect how fast wounds can heal. In fact, some studies reveal that slathering vitamin E oil on the skin may trigger rashes. Besides, some people have even developed dermatitis, a skin condition, after slathering the oil on the skin.

  • Vitamin E pills can help reduce the risk of certain types of cancer

It is also largely believed that since vitamin E can neutralize free radicals, its pills and oils can help reduce the risk of certain types of cancer. Yet, one study followed individuals taking vitamin E supplements for 5 years and concluded that they had no indicators of reduced cancer risks. In fact, some showed as much as 17% increased risks of prostate cancer.

The high hopes may take a tumble

Seemingly, the vitamin E pill may not deliver as much as its proponents claim. Of course, the vitamin helps neutralize free radicals and offsetting the side effects of free radicals. Nonetheless, its pills barely have anything to do with increased wound healing or reduced heart disease and cancer risks.


Recent research reveals otherwise despite the wide claims that vitamin E may help with cancer and other chronic conditions. In fact, large organizations are now running studies lasting as long as 10 years, all of which find no relations between vitamin E supplements and the claimed conditions. As such, if not recommended that you take the supplements, you’d better focus on dietary sources such as vegetable oils, nuts, and seeds to get this vitamin.

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Barbara is a freelance writer and a sex and relationships adviser at Dimepiece LA and Peaches and Screams. Barbara is involved in various educational initiatives aimed at making sex advice more accessible to everyone and breaking stigmas around sex across various cultural communities. In her spare time, Barbara enjoys trawling through vintage markets in Brick Lane, exploring new places, painting and reading.

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