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Does vitamin E affect cholesterol levels?

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Updated on October 9, 2020

Keeping your cholesterol levels in check is very important for your overall health. Doing so can help you lower your risk of heart-related conditions such as stroke or heart attack.

There are several ways you can lower high cholesterol, including medication and lifestyle changes. Increasing your vitamin E intake may also help.

Read on to learn how this works and discover ways to incorporate more vitamin E into your diet.

What does the research say?

Vitamin E is a fat-soluble compound that includes two groups of chemicals: tocopherols and tocotrienols. Some research suggests that tocotrienols may affect cholesterol.

A small 2011 study done on people with high cholesterol found that those who took tocotrienols experienced lower levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol after 5 months. LDL cholesterol is the type that’s often referred to as “bad” cholesterol because it contributes to plaque buildup in your arteries.

Additionally, some research suggests that tocotrienols may improve arterial health, lower blood pressure, and reduce risk of other heart-related conditions. However, much of this research has been done on animals. More human studies are needed in order to confirm these effects.

Where to find vitamin E

As an antioxidant that can help protect cells from damage, vitamin E plays an important role in your overall health.

Many people get enough vitamin E from the foods they eat. Foods high in vitamin E include:

  • Vegetable oils
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Leafy greens
  • Fortified cereals and margarine

Palm oil and bran rice oil are especially rich in tocotrienols.

If you don’t get enough vitamin E in your diet, you can also take vitamin E supplements. These are commonly found either in liquid or capsule form.

Since vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin that can be stored in your body, it’s important not to take too much of it. For adults, the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) is 15 milligrams per day.

Be sure to talk with your doctor before taking any supplements.

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Vitamin E side effects

While vitamin E is generally safe in small doses, sometimes side effects occur. These may be more common if you consume more than the recommended amount.

Side effects may include:

  • Fatigue or weakness
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Intestinal cramps
  • Headache
  • Rash
  • Blurred vision

If you experience any of these side effects while taking a vitamin E supplement, stop taking it.

Other ways to lower cholesterol

If you have high cholesterol, it’s important to talk to your doctor. They can help you figure out the best way to lower your cholesterol and improve your overall health.

Treatment for high cholesterol varies, but can include:

  • Medications like statins
  • Changing your diet, such as eating more fiber and less saturated fat
  • Doing more cardiovascular exercise, like running, walking, swimming, or biking
  • Avoiding alcohol
  • Stopping smoking

The takeaway

Vitamin E contains chemicals called tocotrienols that may lower your cholesterol levels. It may help slow the buildup of plaque in your arteries that’s caused by high cholesterol levels. However, more research is needed before we can say for sure.

Talk to your doctor if you have questions or health concerns about a vitamin E deficiency or high cholesterol.