What Is Vitamin E?
Vitamin E is a powerful, fat-soluble antioxidant that helps protect cell membranes against damage caused by free radicals and prevents the oxidation of LDL cholesterol.
Vitamin E is a group of eight different molecules which are divided into two categories: tocopherols and tocotrienols. Vitamin E plays the role of antioxidant, preventing free radical damage to specific fats in the body that are critical for your health and naturally slowing aging.
Vitamin E is an important fat-soluble vitamin that’s required for the proper function of many organs, enzymatic activities, and neurological processes.
Why Is Vitamin E Necessary?
Vitamin E is necessary for the structural and functional maintenance of skeletal, cardiac, and smooth muscle. It also assists in the formation of red blood cells and helps to maintain stores of vitamins A and K, iron, and selenium.
It may have a positive effect on immune health, protect against the oxidative damage that can lead to heart disease, have preventive effects against cancer, help relieve symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, and may help prevent some diabetes-related damage, particularly to the eyes.
Top 11 Vitamin E Benefits
Do you know what the top vitamin E benefits are?
Supplementing and consuming vitamin E-rich foods has been found to be associated with some of the following health benefits:
1. Balances Cholesterol
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that’s found in all cells of the body. Your body needs some cholesterol to make hormones, vitamin D, and substances that help you digest foods.
Your body makes all the cholesterol it needs. When cholesterol level is in his natural state, it is balanced, normal and healthy. When cholesterol oxidizes, it becomes dangerous.
Studies have shown that certain isomers of vitamin E serve as a protective antioxidant that fights cholesterol oxidation. This is because they can fight free radical damage in the body, which leads to cholesterol oxidation.
Vitamin E molecule tocotrienol has three double bonds that positively impact cardiovascular health due to their ability to reduce the activity of an enzyme that controls cholesterol production and synthesis.
Tocotrienol isomers can also prevent cell adhesion and therefore slow down the progression of atherosclerosis. It’s important to note that synthetic vitamin E doesn’t seem to have the same benefits of natural forms.
2. Fights Free Radicals and Prevents Disease Development
Free radicals are the worst enemy for the healthy cells in your body, and by breaking they can lead to heart disease and cancer. These molecules form naturally in your body, and they can cause severe damage when they accelerate or oxidize.
Vitamin E has powerful antioxidant abilities reducing free radical damage, fight inflammation, and therefore help naturally slow aging.
3. Repairs Damaged Skin
Vitamin E strengthens skin capillary walls and improves moisture and elasticity, acting as a natural anti-aging nutrient. Vitamin E reduces inflammation within the body and on the skin, helping maintain healthy, youthful skin.
This antioxidant is also helpful if you are a smoker or you’re exposed to ultraviolet rays from sunlight, protecting against skin cancer.
Vitamin E together with vitamin C fights skin inflammation after exposure to UV radiation and can also be useful in decreasing signs of acne and eczema.
Vitamin E also helps the skin healing process. It’s absorbed by the epidermis layer of the skin and can be used to treat sunburn. Because it speeds up cell regeneration, it can be used to treat scars, acne, and wrinkles.
4. Thickens Hair
Vitamin E as a powerful antioxidant, it helps decrease environmental damage to your hair. Also, can promote scalp circulation. Vitamin E oil can retain the natural moisture in your skin, which helps your scalp from becoming dry and flaky.
This oil also makes your hair look healthier and fresher. You can apply a few drops of vitamin E oil on your hair, especially if it is dry and dull.
Vitamin E plays the crucial role in balancing your endocrine and nervous systems, naturally working to balance hormones naturally. Symptoms of a hormonal imbalance may include PMS, weight gain, allergies, and urinary tract infections, changes in the skin, anxiety, and fatigue.
By keeping your hormones in balance, you will find it easier to maintain a healthy weight, keep a regular menstrual cycle and find yourself feeling more energetic.
6. Helps PMS Symptoms
Taking a vitamin E supplement two to three days before and two to three days after a menstrual period can reduce the cramping, anxiety and cravings and other PMS symptoms.
Vitamin E can decrease pain duration, and it can reduce menstrual blood loss by balancing your hormones naturally, helping to keep your menstrual cycle regulated.
7. Improves Vision
Vitamin E may help decrease the risk of age-related macular erosion, a common cause of blindness. In order for vitamin E to be effective for vision, it must also be consumed with adequate intakes of vitamin C, beta-carotene and zinc.
It’s also been found that taking high doses of vitamin E and vitamin A daily seems to improve healing and vision in people undergoing laser eye surgery.
8. Helps People with Alzheimer’s Disease
Vitamin E tocotrienol anti-inflammatory activity contributes to protection against Alzheimer’s disease. Vitamin E slows down the worsening of memory loss and normal functioning in people with Alzheimer’s disease or other neurodegenerative disorders.
It may also delay the loss of independence and the need for assistance. Vitamin E, taken with vitamin C, can also decrease the risk of developing several forms of dementia.
9. May Lower Cancer Risk and Improve Effects of Medical Treatments
Vitamin E is also used to minimize the harmful effects of radiation and dialysis for treating cancer. This is because it’s a powerful antioxidant that fights off free radicals in the body. It’s also used to reduce unwanted side effects of drugs that may cause hair loss or lung damage.
Certain isomers of vitamin E have also been tied to cancer protection. A lot of studies have found evidence of suppression of tumor growth using oral doses of tocotrienols, by inducing cancer cell death, turning off genes tied to cancer and inhibiting angiogenesis, or the abnormal growth of blood vessels inside a tumor. Cancer-protective abilities have been demonstrated in cases of breast, prostate, hepatic and skin cancers.
10. Improves Physical Endurance and Muscle Strength
Vitamin E can improve your physical endurance. It can increase your energy and reduce the level of oxidative stress on your muscles after a workout. Vitamin E can also improve your muscle strength. It eliminates tiredness by promoting blood circulation and can also strengthen your capillary walls and feed your cells.
11. Important During Pregnancy for Growth and Development
Vitamin E is the most important during pregnancy and also for proper infants and children development since it protects critical fatty acids and helps control inflammation. The biggest need for vitamin E begins at conception, since impacts early stages of neurologic and brain development during this one specific period.
It’s recommended that pregnant women, nursing mothers, and children until the age of 2 take a natural, food-based supplement to make sure they’re getting enough to prevent abnormalities.
How Do You Get Enough Vitamin E From Food?
There are many common foods with vitamin E. You probably have a few in your house right now. The recommended daily allowance for collective vitamin E is 15 milligrams per day for adults.
Consuming two to three of these vitamin E foods daily can meet your needs:
Almonds are one the best vitamin E foods. You can also get your vitamin E needs in the form of almond milk and almond oils. We would recommend eating raw almonds, if possible.
2. Raw Seeds
Select raw seeds, such as sunflower, pumpkin, and sesame, are another common food with vitamin E. In fact, eating just ¼ of a cup of sunflower seeds gives you 90.5% of your recommended daily value, making them one of the best vitamin E foods you can eat daily.
3. Swiss Chard
Swiss chard is easily one of the healthiest vegetables you can eat on a daily basis. Commonly known to be high in vitamin K, vitamin A and vitamin C, Swiss chard is another food high in vitamin E. Just one cup of boiled Swiss chard greens will provide you with almost 17% of your daily recommended values.
4. Mustard Greens
Similar to Swiss chard, mustard greens are very nutrient dense and will provide a variety of health benefits. Not only are they one of the best vitamin E foods, but mustard greens are also high in vitamin K, vitamin A, folate, and vitamin C.
Eating just one cup of boiled mustard greens contains about 14% of your daily dietary requirements. We would recommend eating organic mustard greens, if possible.
Spinach may not be your favorite veggie, but it is one of the best leafy greens you can add to your diet. Not only is it one of the best calcium foods and naturally high in foliate, it’s also one of the best vitamin E foods as well.
Just one cup of boiled spinach will provide you with approximately 20% of your daily needs. Try adding fresh spinach to your sandwiches to make them extra healthy.
6. Turnip Greens
While turnip greens may have a slightly bitter taste, they are very high in many essential nutrients. Like the rest of the leafy greens on this list, just one cup will provide you with plenty of vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin C and foliate. Not to mention approximately 12% of your daily requirements of vitamin E.
Kale is another great cruciferous vegetable you should eat as often as possible. Kale is very high in many nutrients; in fact, just one cup of boiled kale can give you almost 6% of your daily vitamin E requirements. We would recommend eating organic kale, if possible.
8. Plant oils
Most plant seed oils are very good sources for Vitamin E as well. The best oil with vitamin E is Wheat germ oil. In fact, one tablespoon of this oil holds 100% of your daily Vitamin E requirements.
Sunflower oil is another excellent option, as it provides over 5 mg of the vitamin, and can easily be used for cooking. Other great Vitamin-E-rich oils include hempseed oil, coconut oil, cottonseed oil (with almost 5 mg of vitamin E), olive oil and safflower oil. We would recommend only buying oils that are cold pressed unrefined and organic.
A perfect snack during a long workday, eating just one ounce of hazelnuts can provide you with approximately 20% of our daily requirements of vitamin E. For an alternative to eating nuts, try drinking hazelnut milk in your morning coffee instead of milk or flavored creamer.
10. Pine Nuts
Add an ounce of these nuts to anything you please! One serving contains 2.6 mg of vitamin E. You can also use pine nut oil for added health benefits.
Perhaps one of the tastiest foods with Vitamin E, avocados represent nature’s creamiest, oil-rich food. Just half of an avocado holds more than 2 mg of vitamin E. Avocados are very easy to incorporate into your diet. We would recommend adding sliced avocados to your salad, a sandwich, or mashed up as guacamole!
For generations now, broccoli has been considered one of the best detox foods, but it’s also one of the healthiest foods high in Vitamin E. Just one cup of steamed broccoli will provide you with 4% of your daily requirements. Broccoli may not be as nutrient dense as other Vitamin E foods on this list, but it is definitely one of the healthiest foods you can eat daily.
An excellent spice, parsley is another great Vitamin E food. Try adding fresh parsley to salads and dishes for an extra Vitamin-E kick. Dried parsley will also provide you with this important vitamin, but the fresher the better.
This popular fruit is most commonly known as one of the best vitamin C foods, but it’s also high in Vitamin E. Just one papaya will give you approximately 17% of your daily needs. Try adding fresh or frozen papaya to fruit smoothies, along with other fruity vitamin E foods on this list for an extra healthy snack!
From the oil to the fruit, eating olives is an excellent way of getting your daily needs for vitamin E. Just one cup of olives can give you approximately 20% of your daily recommended amount.
Vitamin E Supplements
You should be able to get the amount of vitamin E you need by eating a varied and balanced diet. If you take vitamin E supplements, don’t take too much as this could be harmful.
Taking 540mg or less a day of vitamin E supplements is unlikely to cause any harm.
While overdosing on food-based vitamin E is unlikely, taking high doses of this vitamin in supplement form can cause serious side effects. One serious side effect is an increased risk of hemorrhagic stroke.
Dosages shouldn’t exceed 1,000 international units (IUs) per day if you’re using synthetic supplements. The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for ages 14 and up is 15 milligrams (mg).
Oral supplements without prescription (over-the-counter):
• Natural vitamin E is labeled as d-alpha-tocopherol. It contains RRR-alpha-tocopherol.
• Synthetic vitamin E is labeled as dl-alpha-tocopherol. It contains vitamin E acetate, succinct or phosphate. Synthetic vitamin E from supplements and fortified foods has only 50% of the activity of natural vitamin E.
• Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) as part of multivitamins
• Other forms of vitamin E, such as gamma-tocopherol and tocotrienols are also on the market; their effectiveness has not been well studied yet. It is not yet known if any of synthetic vitamin E forms is more active than other.
• Alpha-tocopherol as an intramuscular injection
• Alpha-tocopherol as a dermal patch
Before taking this medicine, ask a doctor or pharmacist if it is safe for you to use vitamin E if you have other medical conditions, especially:
• anemia (low red blood cells);
• a bleeding or blood-clotting disorder such as hemophilia;
• liver disease;
• kidney disease;
• any allergies;
• an eye disorder called retinitis pigmentosa;
• a vitamin K deficiency;
• high cholesterol or triglycerides (a type of fat in the blood);
• a history of cancer;
• a history of stroke or blood clot; or
• If you need surgery or have recently had surgery.
Recommended Daily Intake of Vitamin E
The recommended dietary allowance for vitamin E includes the amount you get from both the food that you eat and any supplements you take. The daily intake is measured in milligrams (mg) and international units (IU).
Recommendations for different age groups are listed below:
• 1–3 years: 6 mg/day (9 IU)
• 4–8 years: 7 mg/day (10.4 IU)
• 9–13 years: 11 mg/day (16.4 IU)
• 14 years and up 15 mg/day (22.4 IU)
• Pregnant: 15 mg/day (22.4 IU)
• Breast-feeding: 19 mg/day (28.5 IU)
• 14 years and up 15 mg/day (22.4 IU)
The tolerable upper intake levels are the highest amount of a vitamin that most people can take safely. These high doses can be used to treat a vitamin E deficiency, and it’s important to speak to a doctor before taking more than these upper intake levels.
• 1–3 years: 200 mg/day (300 IU)
• 4–8 years: 300 mg/day (450 IU)
• 9–13 years: 600 mg/day (900 IU)
• 14–18 years: 800 mg/day (1,200 IU)
• 18 years and up: 1,000 mg/day (1,500 IU)
Keep in mind that because vitamin E is fat-soluble, supplements work best when they’re absorbed with food. By eating a healthy and well-balanced diet that’s high in fruits, veggies and whole grains you will get your vitamins from the food.
Vitamin E Deficiency Symptoms
Vitamin E deficiency mainly arises from fat malabsorption. It causes neurological problems due to poor nerve conduction. Low birth weight can also cause vitamin E deficiency.
Vitamin E Deficiency Symptoms in Infants
• Retrolental fibroplasias (an eye disease)
• Loss of weight and delayed growth
• Poor eating habits
• Developmental problems that include physical and mental problems
Vitamin E Deficiency Symptoms in Children
• Chronic liver disease, causing neurological deficits
• Gross lack of coordination of muscle movements with loss of deep tendon reflexes
• Truncal and limb ataxia
• Loss of vibration and position senses
• Paralysis of extra-ocular muscles responsible for eye movements
• Muscle weakness
• Ptosis (drooping upper eyelid)
• Dysarthria (motor speech disorder)
• Slow growth in children
Deficiency of Vitamin E Symptoms in Adults
• Mild anemia
• Nonspecific neurological deficits
• Disorders related to reproduction and infertility
• Fragile red blood cells
• Age spots
• Certain neurological damage
• Decrease in sex drive
• Muscle, liver, bone marrow and brain function abnormalities
General Signs of Deficiency of Vitamin E
• Gastrointestinal diseases
• Dry hair or loss of hair
• Muscular weakness
• Slow tissue healing
• Leg cramps
Vitamin E Side Effects
Vitamin E is fat-soluble and can be stored in adipose tissue of the body. Therefore, the chances of its toxicity are high as compared to water soluble vitamins.
Be cautious before taking the supplements of this vitamin, without consulting your doctor, because they can do more harm than good if taken in more than recommended amounts. However, the chances of vitamin toxicity with the consumption of natural food sources are rare or almost impossible. The upper safe limit for vitamin E consumption is 1000 mg per day.
Taking vitamin E more than this amount can cause following complications and side effects:
• Gastrointestinal issues. Overdoses of vitamin E might result in gastrointestinal troubles like nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps and diarrhea.
• Brain hemorrhages. Vitamin E in recommended doses causes slight dilation of blood vessels. But an overdose of this vitamin causes the rupturing of vessels in the brain, resulting in brain strokes and hemorrhages. Brain strokes need to be treated on an emergency basis; otherwise, they would lead to several other medical complications like paralysis.
• Bleeding. Internal bleeding is one of the serious consequences of vitamin E toxicity. Vitamin E causes thinning of blood by inhibiting the platelet aggregation or clot formation. That is why taking too much vitamin E increases the risks of bleeding.
• Birth defects. Vitamin E should be taken with great caution in pregnancy. Studies show that taking vitamin E more than recommended amount during pregnancy has found to be associated with birth defects in the fetus.
• Vision problems. Taking too much vitamin E may cause the blurring of vision as well.
• Skin problems. Skin rashes and contact dermatitis are common with the use of topical vitamin E creams especially in people who are allergic to it. Overdoses of vitamin E cause bruises on the skin due to its anticoagulant effect.
Relationship with Other Nutrients and Interactions
Vitamin E supplements can slow down blood clotting, and when you use medications that also slow clotting, you may increase the chances of bruising and bleeding. Some medications that slow blood clotting include aspirin, clopidogrel, ibuprofen, and warfarin.
Medications that are used for lowering cholesterol may also interact with vitamin E. It’s not known if taking vitamin E alone decreases the effectiveness of some cholesterol-lowering medications, but it does seem to affect cholesterol when taken with beta-carotene, vitamin C and selenium.
Final Thoughts on Vitamin E Benefits
• Vitamin E benefits the body by playing the role of an antioxidant. As a fat-soluble vitamin, vitamin E benefits include its role in proper function of many organs, enzymatic activities, and neurological processes.
• Vitamin E is a collective description for eight compounds, four tocopherols, and four tocotrienols, and they provide different vitamin E benefits. It’s best to get a variety of vitamin E isomers from your diet, given that different types have different benefits.
• Vitamin E benefits include balancing cholesterol, fighting free radicals, preventing disease development, repairing damaged skin, thickening hair, balancing hormones, helping PMS symptoms, improving vision, helping people with Alzheimer’s, potentially lowering cancer risk and improving effects of medical treatments, and boosting physical endurance and muscle strength.
• Vitamin E is found only in plant foods, including certain oils, nuts, grains, fruits and wheat germ. It’s also available as a supplement. Some of the top vitamin E foods you can eat to get these vitamin E benefits include sunflower seeds, almonds, hazelnuts, wheat germ, mango, avocado, butternut squash, broccoli, spinach, kiwi, and tomato.
• Vitamin E benefits the mother and child during pregnancy as well, as it’s a vital vitamin for growth and development.
• Vitamin E deficiencies symptoms include loss of muscle coordination and impaired vision and speech.
• Vitamin E may be unsafe when taken in very high amounts, especially for people who have conditions such as heart disease or diabetes. If you suffer from these health issues, do not take doses of 400 IU/day or more.