Vitamin E is an essential nutrient that provides a measure of protection to cells so they are less susceptible to damage that can interfere with good health. The University of Maryland Medical Center notes that vitamin E may help protect you from heart disease and cancer, for example. You might think, then, that more is better, but that is not the case with vitamin E. Always ask your doctor before taking vitamin E supplements.
Vitamin E is a soluble vitamin in fat, which means that the body stores the excess instead of excreting it in the urine, as do water-soluble vitamins such as vitamin C. If you regularly take more vitamin E than your body needs and will use, it will begin to accumulate, potentially causing health problems. This only seems to be a problem, however, with vitamin E supplements, according to the National Institutes of Health. The consumption of excessive amounts of vitamin E from food does not seem to represent a danger, possibly because most people do not consume foods rich in vitamin E in excess.
How much is enough and where to find it
Healthy adults should try to include 15 milligrams or 22, 4 international units of vitamin E in their daily diet. Eating a healthy and well-balanced diet is all that is needed to consume sufficient amounts of vitamin E. The best source of vitamin E is wheat germ or wheat germ oil. The liver and eggs are sources of vitamin E, such as green leafy vegetables, sunflower seeds, nuts, vegetable oils, sweet potatoes, avocado, asparagus, sweet potato, tomato, kiwi and mango. If you are worried that you do not consume enough vitamin E, always consult your doctor before taking a supplement.
The dangers of excess
Exceeding yourself regularly with vitamin E, in the form of a supplement, can lead to certain health problems. According to the NIH, excess vitamin E can cause hemorrhage and hemorrhagic stroke. The Linus Pauling Institute points out that this is because the excess of vitamin E can cause deficiencies of blood coagulation. An analysis of 19 different studies regarding high amounts of vitamin E supplements found that adults who regularly took 400 or more international units a day were 6 percent more likely to die from any cause compared to those who did not consume too much vitamin E, according to the Linus Pauling Institute. A 2012 article in the "U.S. News and World Report" notes that excess vitamin E, in the form of a supplement, may increase the risk of prostate cancer in men.
Safe Maximum Limits
The NIH notes that staying within the maximum tolerable limits of vitamin E may reduce the risk of negative side effects from consuming too much.Do not take any amount of vitamin E supplement without discussing it with your doctor first. Your doctor can recommend an appropriate amount of vitamin E supplement, if needed, based on your health history. The maximum tolerable limit of vitamin E for adults is 1,000 milligrams or 1,500 international units per day, but your doctor will determine what limit is safe for you.