July 9, 2008

You Ask, I Answer: Vitamin E

[In your multivitamin posting you mentioned excessive Vitamin E being harmful]. What kind of harm [specifically]?

I've been taking 1/2 a teaspoon full of wheat germ every day for the past 6 months or so.

Should I be worried? Scale it down a bit?

-- Anonymous
Via the blog

Although Vitamin E is an antioxidant, large amounts have been found to increase heart disease risk and act as pro-oxidants.

That said, let's put all this information into numbers.

The Recommended Dietary Allowance for Vitamin E is 10 milligrams per day. Negative health consequences are seen with megadoses of 180 milligrams or more a day. That figure may sound absurdly high, but you will find supplements offering that amount.

Which brings me to another point -- you will often see Vitamin E listed in International Units.

When dealing with synthetic forms of the vitamin (supplements), you convert from IUs to milligrams by multiplying the IU value times 0.45. So, 180 milligrams is equal to 400 IUs.

Onto your other question.

Half a teaspoon of wheat germ contains approximately 0.4 milligrams, so it is by no means cause for concern.

I would suggest having an entire tablespoon each day -- it covers 20% of your daily requirement.

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