Vitamin E: Benefits, Deficiency, Food Sources, and Dosage

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What is Vitamin E?

Vitamin E is a lipid-soluble nutrient in the liver and fatty tissue. It can only be obtained from food and is essential to the body’s defense system. Because of its antioxidant properties, it plays a significant role in many body parts. For instance, oxidative stress has been linked to:

Vitamin E is a countermeasure against numerous consequences of oxidative stress. Be it diseases, inflammation, physical pain, or mood changes – this compound can prevent them by reducing free radicals activity in the body.

Chemical Composition of Vitamin E

Vitamin E is a group of several fat-solubleTrusted Source compounds discovered by Herbert Evans and Katherine Bishop in 1922. 

The only compound the body uses is Alpha-tocopherol, the most potent component in Vitamin E, which is sometimes used as its alternative name.

The eight compounds present in Vitamin E are as follows:

Alpha- and gamma-tocopherols have the highest biological activity. They play the most significant role in fighting free radicals and preventing premature body aging.

Roles of Vitamin E

Consuming foods abundant in Vitamin E or taking supplements has been linked to various health benefits. Below, you can read about the most significant ways Vitamin E affects mental and physical health.

Reduces Oxidative Damage 

Free radicals damage healthy cells in the body, causing oxidative stress. It results in an increased chance of cancer, cardiovascular diseases, a faster aging process, inflammation, and illnesses. 

Thanks to its antioxidant properties, Vitamin E can neutralize free radicals, protecting cells from damage and the body from premature aging. 

If you ensure to eat meals rich in antioxidants, you are going to slow down the aging process and reduce these signs of aging:

Needless to say, by preventing these complications, you are going to look younger and have more energy for your age.

Good for Skin

Vitamin E can speed up healing and make wounds disappear faster. It supports skinTrusted Source health by protecting it from oxidative damage caused by free radicals. 

Moreover, it may decrease the risk of skin cancer, which can result from sun exposure or cigarette smoke. 

Its anti-inflammatory properties can also make the skin look more youthful and healthy. 

Beneficial for Hair

As previously mentioned, Vitamin E prevents hair loss and reduces the amount of gray hair. However, there are more hair-themed benefits of Vitamin E intake.

For instance, as an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant nutrient, it strengthens the hair, making it more resistant to environmental damage. 

It can also prevent the scalp from getting flaky. A few drops of Vitamin E oil can make hair look fresh and healthy.

Supports Eye Health

Due to its antioxidant activity, Vitamin E can also positively affect eyes’ health. It protects the eyes from damage and lowers the risk of blindness caused by age-related macular degeneration.

In addition, it has been found it can benefit people who underwent laser eye surgery. Taking daily along with vitamin A may speed up the healing process after the procedure.

Prevents and Slows Down Cognitive Decline

Vitamin E may prevent Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive declineTrusted Source. It may also protect against diseases related to dementia and slow down memory loss.

One study has found that Vitamin E may benefit Alzheimer’s patientsTrusted Source by reducing oxidative stress, slowing down the progress of the disease, and reducing neuronal damage. It lasted for two years and brought promising results.

However, a similar study that lasted three years suggests that it does not impact people with mild cognitive impairment in any significant way. It also did not change the rate of progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

Because the study results contradict each other, more trials must be conducted to determine which factors come into play regarding Vitamin E’s health benefits. Fortunately, there is no harm in supplementation of this nutrient, which can be safely added to the diet of people affected by Alzheimer’s.

Prevents Coronary Heart Disease

Protecting from coronary heart disease may be a potential health benefit of Vitamin E consumption. It has yet to be determined by science, but the existing evidence is promising.

For instance, the review published in the Journal of Lipid Research suggests that people with type 2 diabetes, hemodialysis, or high levels of oxidative damage may benefit from Vitamin E supplementation. According to the review, it may lower the risk of cardiovascular disease among such people.

On the other hand, the study conducted in 2019 yielded opposite results. Scientists involved in the study found that high levels of Vitamin E negatively affect cardiovascular disease prevention.

More research is needed to satisfy scientists and institutions promoting nutritional knowledge, such as recommended amounts of vitamins. One of them is the American Heart Association, which has yet to become a proponent of Vitamin E as a countermeasure against cardiovascular disease.

Despite contradicting research results, consuming Vitamin E is still good for the heart. Its antioxidant properties promote many organs, contributing to better performance and health of the whole body.

Reduces the Risk of Cancer

Whether Vitamin E can prevent certain types of cancersTrusted Source is another controversial topic in the scientific debate. Again, proponents of this beneficial function refer to the antioxidant effects of Vitamin E. Reducing free radicals and oxidative stress in the body can decrease the chances of cancerous cell growth.

Another argument is that low Vitamin E levels have already been associated with increased cancer risk. But then again, research results on this topic have yielded different results, preventing scientists from reaching a consensus. More high-quality data is needed to determine if Vitamin E has anti-cancer properties or if it prevents cancer in some indirect way.

Improves Physical Performance

We hope you are ready for another ‘antioxidant properties‘ mention. Indeed, the body’s muscle strengthTrusted Source and overall physical prowess can be enhanced by Vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant that clears your body from dangerous free radicals. Some data suggest that it may improve blood circulation, increasing energy levels. It can also improve muscle strength if consumed after a workout. 

Best Food Sources

Vitamin E is found in fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and plant-based oilsTrusted Source. Because Vitamin E is fat-soluble, consuming it with foods containing fat is best to help with its absorption.

The following table consists of ten foods that are high in Vitamin E:

Sunflower Seeds26.1mg per 100 grams
Almonds 25.6mg per 100 grams
Avocados2.1mg per 100 grams
Spinach2.1mg per 100 grams
Butternut Squash 1.3mg per 100 grams
Kiwifruit1.5mg per 100 grams
Broccoli 1.5mg per 100 grams
Trout2.8mg per 100 grams
Olive Oil14.4mg per 100 grams
Shrimp (Prawns)2.2mg per 100 grams

Vitamin E may only be adequately absorbed if paired with certain foods. To prevent low Vitamin E levels despite eating the foods listed above, try eating them with fat ingredients – it will help dissolve the vitamin in the body. 

Vitamin E: Benefits, Deficiency, Food Sources, and Dosage

Recommended Daily Intake

The recommended daily allowance (RDA) of Vitamin E depends on the age. The amount increases with age, reaching max at 15 mg in adulthood. However, teens and women need more than that during breastfeeding (up to 2 years, according to WHO), which amounts to 19 mg daily. 

The RDATrusted Source for each age group is as follows:

AgeMaleFemalePregnancyBreastfeeding
0 to 6 months4 mg4 mg
Infants 7–12 months 5 mg5 mg
Children 1–3 years6 mg6 mg
Children 4–8 years7 mg7 mg
Teens 14–18 year 11 mg 11 mg15 mg15 mg
Adults15 mg15 mg19 mg19 mg

Causes of Vitamin E Deficiency

Severe Vitamin E deficiency rarely occurs, even among people who absorb below-recommended amounts. A lot of food contains this nutrient, which makes it easy to meet the daily demand.

Vitamin E deficiencyTrusted Source applies mainly to people with digestive tract disorders, preventing them from absorbing it properly. These may include:

Less common situations that make it challenging to absorb Vitamin E also apply to:

If any of the above applies to you, you may need to follow a specific diet to absorb the vitamin properly. 

Symptoms of Vitamin E Deficiency

Now that you know what may cause Vitamin E deficiency, let’s look at the warning signs and symptoms caused by low levels of this nutrient.

According to the National Library of Medicine, Vitamin E deficiency is unlikely to occur in healthy people in developed countries. As mentioned previously, it primarily applies to people with conditions preventing proper absorption of the vitamin. 

The possible symptoms and complications of low Vitamin E levels for a prolonged time are as follows:

Infants may also experience symptoms of deficiency. It may include swelling, retinopathy (disease of the retina), and hemolytic anemia.

Vitamin E: Benefits, Deficiency, Food Sources, and Dosage

Signs of Vitamin E Toxicity

Like Vitamin E deficiency, toxicity is also unlikely to happen. In rare scenarios where a person takes extreme amounts of Vitamin E supplementsTrusted Source, the following complications may occur:

If you take the recommended daily allowance proper for your age, the above symptoms won’t happen. It applies to very high daily doses, more than 1000 mg.

Drug Interactions

Some medications and nutrients may not interact well with Vitamin E. The following drugs and compounds interact with Vitamin E:

Vitamin K – Vitamin E may lower the effectiveness of Vitamin K if taken at the same time.

Niacin – Vitamin E may also decrease the effects of niacin

Medications –  (Aspirin, Ibuprofen, Warfarin) – certain drugs that slow down blood clotting don’t go well with Vitamin E supplements, which may have the same effect. Combing the mentioned medications with Alpha-tocopherol may result in bruising and bleeding.

Closing Comments

Vitamin E is a group of eight compounds with antioxidant properties. Maintaining the body’s essential functions and preventing oxidative damage are critical roles of this nutrient. 

It can be obtained from food or supplements and is best paired with foods that contain fat – this will ensure correct absorption in the small intestine.

The best sources of this compound include almonds, sunflower seeds, and olive oil. Supplementation is safe, but it is more beneficial to the body to consume foods containing other healthy nutrients.

Although rare, Vitamin E deficiency can occur. They mainly apply to people with digestive tract diseases such as pancreatitis or Crohn’s disease.

If you think of adding more Vitamin E to your diet, consult a health professional or dietician to consider the best options. Certain drugs, especially medications slowing down blood clotting, may not interact well with Vitamin E supplements, causing bruising or bleeding.

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November 7, 2023
9 minutes read
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