Vitamin E intake and vitamin E serum levels associated with lower risk of disease, death during follow-up

December 3, 2019

Analyses published this year continue to affirm the benefits of vitamin E in humans. Studies have found relationships between increased intake of the vitamin and a lower risk of bladder cancer, and between higher serum levels and a lower risk of cognitive impairment and mortality from all major diseases.

In a meta-analysis reported in the September 2019 issue of the International Journal for Vitamin and Nutrition Research, researchers in Shanghai analyzed three randomized trials and eight cohort studies that evaluated the effects of vitamin E consumption on the risk of bladder cancer. They found an 11% lower risk of the disease among subjects whose intake was highest compared to those who had a low intake.

Another meta-analysis, published on October 29, 2019 in Nutritional Neuroscience, included 31 articles that reported the associations between serum levels of vitamin E and the risk of Alzheimer’s disease or age-related cognitive deficits and mild cognitive impairment. The analysis revealed that men and women with these conditions had lower levels of the form of vitamin E known as alpha-tocopherol in comparison with healthy control subjects. “Regarding possible mechanisms of how vitamin E might relate to Alzheimer’s disease and mild cognitive impairment, a number of studies have demonstrated the beneficial effects of vitamin E supplementation on various markers of inflammatory stress, cellular signaling and immune function in humans and its influence on Alzheimer’s disease-associated pathology,” Stephanie Ashley and colleagues write. They add that vitamin E has been shown to counteract oxidative stress induced by amyloid-beta, a substance that forms harmful plaques in the brains of Alzheimer’s disease patients.

Further associations of vitamin E with positive health outcomes were obtained in an analysis of 29,092 older male smokers who participated in the Alpha-Tocopherol, Beta-Carotene Cancer Prevention Study, which was published in the June 21, 2019 issue of the American Heart Association journal Circulation Research. Serum vitamin E levels and other factors were measured at enrollment during 1985 to 1988. Participants were followed through December 2015, during which time 23,787 deaths occurred.

Among the 20% of subjects whose serum alpha-tocopherol levels were highest there was an adjusted 22% lower risk of dying from any cause during 30 years of follow-up compared to subjects whose levels placed them among the lowest 20%. When major diseases were examined, risks of mortality from cardiovascular disease, heart disease, stroke, cancer, respiratory disease and other causes were respectively 22%, 17%, 40%, 19%, 47% and 36% lower among participants whose levels were in the highest group. “To our knowledge, this is the largest study to examine alpha-tocopherol biochemical status in relation to overall and cause-specific mortality,” Jiaqi Huang, PhD, of the National Cancer Institute and colleagues announced. “Our data supports the long-term health benefits of higher serum alpha-tocopherol for overall and chronic disease mortality and should be replicated in other more diverse populations.”

These analyses support diverse benefits of high vitamin E intake and vitamin E serum levels, for the body, mind and life span. Ensuring the intake of all eight forms of the vitamin is the best way to support optimal vitamin E levels and optimal health.


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Apply What You’ve Learned: Vitamin E

  • Vitamin E was discovered at the University of California, Berkeley, by Dr. Herbert M. Evans and Katherine S. Bishop. Its necessity for reproduction has been acknowledged for nearly one hundred years.1

  • Vitamin E’s best-known role is that of a fat-soluble antioxidant.

  • While alpha-tocopherol is the most recognized form of the vitamin, vitamin E is actually a family that includes not only alpha-tocopherol, but beta, gamma and delta tocopherols, and alpha, beta, gamma and delta tocotrienols.

  • Vitamin E expert Maret Traber has noted that the recommended dietary allowance for vitamin E of 15 milligrams per day [22.5 IU] “may be a vitamin E intake that is achieved only with supplements, given the dietary habits of most Americans.”2


  1. Mohd Mutalip SS et al. Antioxidants (Basel). 2018 Jan 26;7(2).
  2. Traber MG. Am J Clin Nutr. 2006 Nov;84(5):959-60.

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