Vitamin E

Vitamin E

All of the vitamins work together to keep you healthy and feeling good. Here is a summary of the role of Vitamin E, a fat-soluble vitamin, in your good health.

What it does Protects the body from oxidative stress as an anti-oxidant; helps maintain integrity of cell membranes
Daily needs [Infants*: 4-5 mg or 6-7.5 IU]
[Children†: 6-15 mg or 9-22.5 IU]
[Men: 15 mg or 22.5 IU ]
[Women: 15 mg or 22.5 IU]
[Pregnant: 15mg or 22.5 IU]
[Lactating: 19 mg or 28.5 IU]
Not enough Poor balance, Muscle weakness, vision problems, speech problems
Too Much (Upper limit for adults established by the USDA is 1,000 mg or 1500 IU)
Foods Whole or enriched grain products, Meat-especially pork, Legumes, Winter squash, Nuts

*The lower value is for infants up to 6 mos.,higher value is for infants up to a year old.
† The first value is for children 1-3 with the amount increasing until age 18.

Destroyed by Heat

Vit E is easily destroyed by heat so, Vit E rich foods should be cooked lightly or eaten raw whenever possible.

Found in a variety of foods

Although Vit E is found in a large number of foods, some of the best sources of Vitamin E are as follows:

Olive oil… Safflower oil… Canola oil… Sunflower oil… Almonds… Peanuts… Hazelnuts… Spinach… Romaine… Avocado… Wheat germ… Whole grains… Liver… Eggs…

Deficiency rare

Vit E deficiency is rare and usually accompanies diseases where fat is not properly absorbed, such as cystic fibrosis. Premature infants are also vulnerable to Vit E deficiency. In general, people who live in developed countries like the United States get enough Vit E. However, those suffering from eating disorders or living in poverty may not be eating enough food to get sufficient Vit E in their diet.

Fun Fact: If you make a salad with dark greens (spinach and romaine, for example), sprinkled with sliced almonds, garnished with some fresh avocado chunks, and topped off with a bit of oil and vinegar or some other good quality dressing, you will have a veritable feast of Vit E (plus a lot of other nutrients!) Add some colorful carrots and tomatoes and it will delight the eye as well as the palate.

In the news

Vit E is frequently in the news because its antioxidant properties make it a player in the prevention of diseases such as coronary artery disease and cancer. Vit E has been shown to enhance immune function, particularly in the elderly. Studies are ongoing to determine the effect of Vitamin E on diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Type II Diabetes.

Recently there was a lot of hoopla in the news about Vit E actually being harmful. A closer look at the study and the way it was reported, showed that there is no evidence that daily Vitamin E supplementation up to 400 IU is in any way correlated to increased risk of death by any cause.

Supplements a mixed bag

Many health experts recommend taking a daily Vit E supplement of 400-800 IU, depending on who is making the recommendation. However, as with all nutrients, it is better to get your Vit E from fresh, whole foods, if possible. In addition, take the supplement with a meal that contains some fat to facilitate the absorption of the Vit E in the supplement.

Since Vit E is a fat-soluble Vitamin, it is stored in the fat in your body. The good news is that it means that you have a supply of Vit E on hand, should your diet fail you. However, be aware that all of the fat-soluble vitamins can be toxic in large doses, because the excess is not excreted. Toxicity is less likely to occur if you get your Vitamin E from foods.

If you decide to take a supplement, be aware of the amount of Vita E it contains.

Caveat: If you choose to take a Vitamin E supplement, be sure to read the label to see in what form the Vit E is found. Natural Vitamin E from mixed tocopherols is the best. If that is not available, d-tocopherol is better than dl-tocopherol, which is a synthetic form that is not as bio-available to the body.

Some medications may inhibit the absorption of Vit E and the effectiveness of others may be affected by Vit E supplementation. If you are taking medication, you should talk to your doctor and pharmacist about possible interactions.

Click here to go from Vitamin E page to Food is Medicine page.