Vitamin E is an important fat-soluble vitamin that has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Scientists have conducted research on vitamin E supplementation for treating fatty liver disease.

As its name would suggest, fatty liver disease occurs due to excess fat in the liver. Current research into treating fatty liver disease with vitamin E supplementation is inconclusive.

This article discusses what fatty liver disease is and how vitamin E may help to manage the condition. It also explores established treatment options for fatty liver disease before answering some common questions about vitamin E and the liver.

Image of a translucent capsule reflecting light on a surface.Share on Pinterest
Adrienne Bresnahan/Getty Images

Fatty liver disease, or , is a condition where too much fat accumulates in a person’s liver. This fat accumulation does not arise due to alcohol consumption. There are two main types of NAFLD:

  • Nonalcoholic fatty liver (NAFL): People with NAFL have an abnormal amount of fat in their liver but do not experience liver damage from the “ballooning” of their liver cells. Ballooning is a term to describe liver cell swelling and enlargement.
  • Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH): People with NASH also have an abnormal quantity of liver fat. However, these individuals also have damaged liver cells due to inflammation or ballooning.

Around 20% of the United States population has NAFLD. This condition can lead to serious liver damage even though people do not present any symptoms in most cases.

Learn more about the differences between NAFL, NAFLD, and NASH here.

Scientists define vitamin E as a fat-soluble vitamin that can help to protect cell membranes from oxidative stress.

A 2018 study stated that alongside its antioxidant effects, vitamin E has the potential to reduce inflammation and prevent cell death. Therefore, scientists have conducted research on vitamin E and fatty liver disease.

However, researchers may find it difficult to draw definitive conclusions about the efficacy of vitamin E treatment for NAFLD. This is because different studies use different methods, vary in quality, and often provide conflicting results.

For instance, a 2018 review concluded that vitamin E supplementation could sometimes improve markers of liver health in people with NAFLD. However, the authors noted methodological issues in the studies they examined, such as small sample sizes.

After finding that vitamin E may help with some abnormalities of NAFLD, the authors of a 2020 review noted similar limitations in the studies they investigated.

A 2019 review suggested that adults with NAFLD may benefit from taking vitamin E supplements and other lifestyle changes, such as losing weight. Benefits of taking vitamin E supplements may include:

The authors of the review noted that children may not benefit from taking vitamin E supplements.

A 2020 review found that non-adults with NAFLD experienced improvements in liver health after increasing their dietary vitamin E.

Further high quality research is needed to determine the efficacy of vitamin E in treating NAFLD. However, there are other treatment options for people with NAFLD.

A common treatment doctors may recommend for NAFLD includes lifestyle changes to help a person lose weight. This might include exercise and dietary modifications, such as eating less fatty foods and restricting carbohydrates — especially dietary fructose.

Experts note that individuals with obesity and NAFLD may reduce fat buildup in the liver by losing between 3–5% of their body weight. They may also reduce inflammation in the liver by reducing their body weight by up to 10%.

Weight loss can be an effective treatment in the earlier stages of NAFLD, alongside abstinence from alcohol and drugs that may cause liver damage.

For people with advanced disease and cirrhosis, doctors may suggest a liver transplant.

Learn more about treatment for NAFLD here.

Below are some of the most common questions about vitamin E and fatty liver.

Can vitamin E damage the liver?

Current research does not indicate that vitamin E damages the liver.

However, scientists are still investigating the effects of vitamin E on the liver.

What vitamins are good for fatty liver?

There is some evidence that vitamin E could have a positive effect on the liver health of people with NAFLD. Some research suggests that vitamins D, B9, B12, A, and C could help people with NAFLD. However, more conclusive research is needed.

A person should work with their healthcare team to develop a diet, exercise, and supplement regimen specific to their needs.

How can I remove fat from my liver?

Healthcare professionals may recommend losing weight by making lifestyle modifications to reduce fat in the liver.

Vitamin E has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that may have a positive impact on fatty liver disease.

However, research is ongoing and has indicated mixed results. Many researchers state that further investigation is needed before confirming the efficacy of vitamin E as a treatment for NAFLD.

There is a range of other options for people with NAFLD. A person should speak with a doctor for further information about NAFLD treatment.