Vitamin E

Novartis Found Symp. 2007:282:77-87; discussion 87-92, 212-8. doi: 10.1002/9780470319444.ch6.


Vitamin E refers to a family of tocopherol and tocotrienol isomers discovered in 1922 as anti-infertility factor. Vitamin E deficiency causes infertility and delayed-onset ataxia in experimental animals, and it leads to neuronal dysfunctions in humans. However, based largely on its radical-scavenging antioxidant activity in vitro, vitamin E supplements are commonly thought to provide health benefits against diseases associated with oxidative damage, most notably cardiovascular diseases. Contrary to this belief, the outcome of recent large, prospective, randomized and placebo-controlled clinical studies does not encourage the use of vitamin E supplements. These overall disappointing results can be explained and substantiated by scientific data critically testing the strengths of evidence for many of the underlying assumptions and examining the possibility that in vivo vitamin E may have function(s) other than, or in addition to, acting as an antioxidant.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antioxidants / administration & dosage
  • Antioxidants / adverse effects
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Nutrition Policy*
  • Nutritional Requirements*
  • Vitamin E Deficiency / prevention & control*
  • Vitamin E* / administration & dosage
  • Vitamin E* / adverse effects
  • Vitamin E* / physiology
  • Vitamins / administration & dosage
  • Vitamins / adverse effects


  • Antioxidants
  • Vitamins
  • Vitamin E