Pregnancy Use

Vitamin E is considered safe in pregnancy. PRACTICE POINTS/PATIENT COUNSELLING

• Vitamin E is actually a generic term used to describe any chemical entity that displays the biological activity of RRR-alpha-tocopherol, the most abundant form found in nature. The 'natural' form is the most potent of all the eight forms of vitamin E, although there is evidence that other tocopherols also exhibit significant beneficial effects.

• It is involved in myriad biochemical processes such as immunocompetenceand neurological function, but its most important biological function is that of an antioxidant.

• Vitamin E is used for many different indications. There is evidence to suggest that supplementation may be useful when meant for:

• cardiovascular disease prevention, although effects are inconsistent

• slowing down progression of Alzheimer's dementia, although effects are inconsistent

• enhancing immune function in the elderly

• preventing anaemia and treating cramps in patients on haemodialysis

• reduce PMS and menopause symptoms

• reducing pain in OA and RA

• improving some forms of male infertility

• reducing risk of stage 3+ retinopathy in premature babies

• preventing ischaemic stroke in high-risk hypertensive patients

• reducing incidence of some cancers, although effects are inconsistent

• preventing sunburn (when used with vitamin C)

• slowing down carotid atherosclerosis (when used with vitamin C) Vitamin E 1351

• reducing blood pressure

• reducing nitrate tolerance.

• Oral supplements have been used to prevent or treat many other conditions such as exerciser-induced tissue damage, some types of senile cataracts, epilepsy and fibromyalgia.

• It is a popular ingredient in many moisturising preparations used to alleviate dry and cracked skin, assist in the repair of abrasions, burns, grazes and skin lesions, prevent stretch marks and diminish scar tissue. Vitamin E oil is used as a standalone preparation or incorporated into a cream or ointment base for these purposes.

• People with impaired coagulation, inherited bleeding disorders, history of haemor-rhagic stroke, vitamin K deficiency or at risk of pulmonary embolism or thrombophlebitis should use high-dose supplements under medical supervision.

ANSWERS TO PATIENTS' FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What will this vitamin do for me?

Vitamin E is essential for health and wellbeing. It is involved in many important biological processes in the body and may prevent serious diseases such as heart disease and some cancers. It is also used to reduce symptoms in common conditions such as arthritis, PMS and menopause. Vitamin E supplements enhance immune function in the elderly and may slow the progression of Alzheimer's dementia. Oral supplements have been used to prevent or treat many other conditions such as exercise-induced tissue damage, some types of senile cataracts, epilepsy and fibromyalgia.

When will it start to work?

This depends largely on the reason for taking the supplement. In the case of disease prevention, studies suggest that long-term use is necessary (i.e. 2-3 years or longer). When using vitamin E to reduce symptoms, effects have generally been seen within 3 months.

Are there any safety issues?

People with impaired coagulation, inherited bleeding disorders, history of haemor-rhagic stroke, vitamin K deficiency or at risk of pulmonary embolism or thrombophlebitis should use high-dose supplements under medical supervision. Additionally, vitamin E can interact with some medicines, so professional advice is recommended when using high-dose supplements.

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