Vitamin E is essential to the health and well-being of humans. It dissolves in fat and is found in many foods including vegetable oils, cereals, fruits, vegetables, nuts and more. There are many benefits to maintaining adequate levels of Vitamin E in your body. It’s linked to mitigated risk of coronary heart disease, immune function, inflammation prevention, improve eye health and a whole host of other healthy roles as a natural antioxidant.
In spite of Vitamin E’s availability in foods, many people don’t get enough in their diet. Natural Vitamin E supplements provide an easy way for people to achieve adequate levels throughout the body. While research on Vitamin E is ongoing and promising, a Vitamin E supplement may not be right for everyone, and concerning drug interactions can occur in some people if they’re not careful in supplementing.
Read on to learn more about potential drug interactions between high levels of Vitamin E and certain drugs and supplements—and always consult your doctor for more information.
What is a drug interaction?
In simplest terms, a drug interaction occurs when a drug and another substance present in a body intermingle to prevent the drug from performing as expected. There are many types of drug interactions, including drug-to-drug interactions; drug and food interactions; and drug and supplement interactions.
Drug interactions occur when there’s an increase or decrease of a drug’s absorption or distribution throughout the body, when there are alterations made to the drug by the body’s metabolism and when the drug is fully eliminated from the body. Interactions can have either additive or canceling effects on the body.
Vitamin E drug interactions
When taken at appropriate doses, consumption of Vitamin E is generally considered safe. Daily consumption must remain below 1,000 IU, as overconsumption may increase the risk of bleeding in individuals who take the following medicines:
- Anticoagulants. Use of Vitamin E with anticoagulant drugs like Warfarin and Heparin or Heparin-like products, as well as anticoagulant herbs and supplements that reduce blood clotting, may increase risk of bleeding.
- Antiplatelets. Antiplatelet medications like aspirin, clopidogrel, ticlopidine, etc. In combination with these drugs, Vitamin E may increase their effects and cause you to bleed more easily.
- Thrombolytics. Individuals taking alteplase, reteplase, streptokinase and Tenecteplase can react with Vitamin E.
- NSAIDs. This drug class, including aspirin and ibuprofen, can interfere with normal blood clotting, raising the risk of bleeding—especially in the digestive tract. Taking them with Vitamin E can raise the bleeding risk even more.
Most of these drugs include warnings about what not to take when using them, and there are common drug interaction checkers online you can and should use to confirm the safety of a supplement against any drugs you may be taking.
Potential drug interactions for Vitamin E
While every person needs some levels of Vitamin E to maintain good health, high doses of can lead to potential interactions with medications. There can be a moderate interaction between elevated levels of Vitamin E and the following drugs:
- Statins: These medications are used for lowering cholesterol, and you should always consult your doctor before taking a Vitamin E supplement along with Statins. Vitamin E, when taken in combination with Vitamin C, selenium and beta-carotene, may decrease the effectiveness of cholesterol-lowering medications. It’s unsure if use of Vitamin E alone can cause the same reaction.
- Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy drugs are essential for treating cancer. Since Vitamin E is an antioxidant, there’s some concern that it may decrease the effectiveness of chemotherapy drugs. Research is ongoing.
- Cytochrome substrates: Cytochrome substrates are slowly metabolized by the liver. Since Vitamin E may increase the rate at which the liver breaks down certain medications, taking a supplement along with a Cytochrome substrate can decrease its effectiveness. Talk to your doctor about taking a Vitamin E supplement if you’re currently taking any of the following medications: lovastatin (Mevacor), ketoconazole (Nizoral), itraconazole (Sporanox), fexofenadine (Allegra), triazolam (Halcion).
It's also important to check the listing on any prescriptions to determine if there’s a potential interaction. Most medications will list specific interaction compounds—keep an eye out for tocopherols or tocotrienols in the listed compounds.
Safety first when supplementing
Always consult your doctor first before taking a new supplement or when discontinuing use of a supplement. While supplements, including Vitamin E, are readily available and easy to take, they can have different effects for different people. Self-diagnosing is never a good strategy, and in the case of Vitamin E there are drug interactions to be aware of before consumption. While Vitamin E supplements are generally seen as safe to consume, talk to your doctor first to determine if it’s a smart option for you.