Vitamin E and human health: rationale for determining recommended intake levels

Nutrition. 1997 May;13(5):450-60. doi: 10.1016/s0899-9007(97)00110-x.


The recent literature provides strong evidence that vitamin E intakes much higher than the current recommendations can contribute to and/or improve human health. In fact, the available data indicate that at higher-than-current recommended intake levels, vitamin E affects several functions related to human health. For example, Vitamin E is required to protect polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) against auto-oxidation. The amount of vitamin E needed to protect PUFAs against oxidative damage is at least 0.4-0.8 mg vitamin E per gram PUFAs and may be in excess of 1.5 mg/g when diets contain higher-than-average levels of long-chain PUFAs. Based upon studies of vitamin E kinetics and metabolism, a daily vitamin E intake of 135-150 IU is suggested. Important functions such as protection against oxidative damage, immune response, and the propensity of platelets to adhere to the vessel wall are related to vitamin E intakes. Vitamin E intake of 40 IU/d was the least amount demonstrated to inhibit low-density lipoprotein oxidation; a dose-dependent effect was seen up to 800 IU/d. Vitamin E intakes of at least 60 IU/d enhanced immune responses and intakes of 200 IU-400 IU/d decreased platelet adhesion to the vessel wall. Based upon the effects of modulating these functions, it is hypothesized that vitamin E plays a pivotal role in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases. Indeed, many observational studies have reported vitamin E to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Recent intervention studies corroborate these findings. Of equal importance, there is a solid body of literature that demonstrates that these and much higher vitamin E intakes are safe.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control
  • Diet
  • Dietary Fats, Unsaturated / administration & dosage
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated / administration & dosage
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immune System / drug effects
  • Male
  • Neoplasms / etiology
  • Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Nutritional Requirements
  • Safety
  • Vitamin E / administration & dosage*
  • Vitamin E / blood
  • Vitamin E / metabolism
  • Vitamin E Deficiency / drug therapy
  • Vitamin E Deficiency / etiology


  • Dietary Fats, Unsaturated
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated
  • Vitamin E