Vitamin E benefits many functions in the body. It is a powerful antioxidant whose main job is to protect cells from free radical damage. It also plays a role in supporting a healthy immune system. It is used to prevent and treat heart disease, cancer, macular degeneration, and cataracts, reduce oxidative stress, and improve cognitive function.
Vitamin E deficiency is rare, except in those who are malnourished or who have mal- absorption conditions (celiac disease, cystic fibrosis); however, many people receive less than the recommended amount of vitamin E and this is associated with an increased risk of heart disease.
Symptoms of vitamin E deficiency include impaired balance and coordination, damage to sensory nerves, muscle weakness and damage to the retina of the eye.
Drugs that deplete vitamin E: cholestyramine, colestipol, isoniazid, mineral oil, orlistat, sucralfate, phenobarbitol, phenytoin, and carbamazepine.
Vitamin E may enhance the blood-thinning effects of warfarin. Since it is difficult to achieve the recommended amount of vitamin E from diet alone, supplements are often necessary to achieve the amounts needed for disease prevention.