Vitamin E – from this amount an overdose is possible

A man reads the label of a dietary supplement.

Anyone who takes vitamin E as a dietary supplement for a long time runs the risk of an overdose. (Source: PIKSEL/Getty Images)

Vitamin E is healthy – but an excess of it is not. How much it can be maximum per day and what consequences an overdose can have.

The body cannot produce vitamin E itself, but it can be absorbed through food, such as vegetable oils and many other foods . It is important to consume these regularly: Vitamin E makes a decisive contribution to maintaining the health of the entire organism. As a so-called antioxidant, it protects cells from attacks by free radicals. It also plays a significant role in the immune and cardiovascular systems.

Anyone who takes the vitamin as a dietary supplement in view of these effects is not doing themselves any good: on the one hand, it is a waste of money – the vitamin E requirement can usually be easily met through a balanced diet. On the other hand, taking too high doses of vitamin E poses health risks.

What is the maximum amount of vitamin E per day?

According to the German Nutrition Society, women should consume around 12 milligrams of vitamin E every day and men around 15 milligrams. Just one tablespoon of wheat germ oil is enough.

So it doesn’t have to be more – but it can be: According to the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR), anyone who wants to take vitamin E as a dietary supplement should stick to a maximum dose of 30 milligrams of vitamin E – more precisely: vitamin E equivalents.

On advice pages on the Internet and even in specialist literature, maximum values ​​are sometimes mentioned that are much higher than 30 milligrams. In many places, 300 milligrams per day is given as the maximum tolerable amount. This recommendation comes from the EU Commission’s previous Scientific Committee on Food in 2003 and is outdated.

The BfR also took more recent studies into account in its assessment and came to the conclusion that a daily dose of 300 milligrams is high. As the studies show, lower doses of vitamin E could potentially be harmful to health , at least when consumed over a long period of time. That is why the BfR suggested the significantly lower value as the maximum amount.

Excess vitamin E – what are the consequences?

An excess of vitamin E is likely to be harmful to health. However, it has not yet been conclusively clarified what problems are at risk, at what dose these are to be expected and in whom.

Studies on these questions have so far only provided information from which the following warnings can be derived:

  • A long-term excessive intake of vitamin E may promote bleeding. Among other things, long-term use of doses beyond 130 milligrams per day may increase the risk of bleeding in the brain, which can cause a stroke. There is also evidence that this reduces the effectiveness of anticoagulant medications in some people.
  • Men aged 55 and over who take vitamin E doses of 268 milligrams or more per day over the long term may have an increased risk of prostate cancer.

If you stay away from vitamin E supplements, you don’t have to worry about these possible consequences of an overdose. With a normal diet, an excess of vitamin E is not to be expected.


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