Vitamin E has long intrigued researchers. Though there are some inconsistencies in research concerning some of the benefits of this vitamin, no scientist questions the fact that this potent antioxidant is necessary for healthy living.
Let’s dive into the essential details about vitamin E and its most valuable source, vitamin E foods.
About Vitamin E
Vitamin E is a general term used to denote eight fat-soluble compounds:
And four tocotrienols:
Alpha-tocopherol is the only extremely valuable one for humans.
Vitamin E is fat-soluble, which allows it to be stored in the body for future use, lowering the risk of deficiency.
Vitamin E Benefits
The biological role of vitamin E has been a scientific puzzle for decades, inspiring research that often produced inconclusive results. Scientists are still working on uncovering its full potential.
Let’s look at the most well-known benefits associated with this nutrient.
Blood Vessel Protection
A five-day study examining 15 men found that vitamin E has a positive effect on blood vessels. It explains that this nutrient effectively prevents cell lining damage in the blood vessels resulting from high sugar levels induced by sugary foods.
Additionally, vitamin E also supports uninterrupted blood flow by widening the arteries.
Blood Clot Prevention
Research concerning vitamin E and cardiovascular diseases links vitamin E supplementation with a reduced risk of blood clot formation.
Hearth Health Support
Extensive sources indicate that vitamin E supplementation may reduce the risk of cardiovascular issues (e.g., coronary heart disease, heart attack, etc.).
For example, one of the observational studies showed that regularly taking a vitamin E supplement (400 IU a day) for at least two years reduces the risk of major coronary disease by about 40%.
Furthermore, another study suggested that taking 600 IU of vitamin E on alternate days could reduce the risk of cardiovascular death by 24%. Additionally, vitamin E can prevent blood clot formation, reducing the risk of heart attack and venous thromboembolism.
However, various controlled clinical studies are less supportive of this claim, finding no tangible benefits of vitamin E supplementation for cardiovascular health.
What’s more, some studies even found that vitamin E supplementation can be counterproductive, increasing the risk of heart failure and the need for hospitalization.
This is likely due to the interaction between heart disease drugs such as ACE inhibitors and vitamin E supplements, where the former reduces the latter’s effectiveness.
Vitamin E is a potent antioxidant abundant in vitamin E foods such as wheat germ oil, pumpkin, almonds, etc. It helps neutralize harmful free radicals, compounds detrimental to the body, including skin and hair.
Vitamin E for Hair Health
Some studies suggest that vitamin E can help reduce oxidative stress in the scalp, preventing hair loss.
Vitamin E for Skin Health
Due to its antioxidant properties, vitamin E can help alleviate atopic dermatitis symptoms. Furthermore, it can reduce UV ray damage to the skin, which is why it’s often included in sunscreens.
The Immune System Strengthening
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) is a powerful antioxidant that may help boost the immune response and ward off infections by reducing concentrations of damaging compounds such as prostaglandin and plasma lipid peroxide.
Furthermore, this vitamin with anti-inflammatory properties can reduce age-related cell damage that may lead to many chronic diseases and cancer.
Long-term eye health support is another of the many benefits of vitamin E. It’s believed that this potent antioxidant can prevent and treat eye disorders resulting from oxidative stress damage (e.g., AMD, cataracts).
Some studies suggest that high-dose vitamin E combined with vitamin C, beta carotene, copper, and zinc can reduce the risk and prevent the progression of age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
However, other studies show no significant beneficial effect in AMD prevention.
Furthermore, some studies indicate that vitamin E supplementation could reduce the risk of cataracts.
Cognitive Health Support
Research shows that vitamin E, often combined with vitamin A and C, may slow down and prevent memory decline and neurodegenerative disorders due to its antioxidant properties.
Preventing the Progression of Alzheimer’s Disease
While a vitamin E supplement can’t prevent Alzheimer’s disease, it can affect its development. Research shows that vitamin E combined with vitamin C could delay its progression.
However, some studies failed to verify this and found no significant effect of this vitamin on mild cognitive impairments.
Parkinson’s Disease Prevention
There’s limited scientific evidence associating vitamin E with a reduced risk of Parkinson’s disease and its delayed progression.
Studies show that vitamin E could reduce the risk of Parkinson’s disease. However, this applies only to vitamin E obtained from vitamin E foods, not supplements.
This is likely because food rich in vitamin E also contains other nutrients that may augment vitamin E’s potency and act preventatively against Parkinson’s disease.
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Prevention
According to a large-scale longitudinal study examining nearly a million ALS patients, regular intake of a vitamin E supplement could decrease ALS mortality.
There’s also some evidence indicating that this type of supplementation could prevent ALS. According to research, the length of vitamin E supplements usage is inversely proportional to their risk of developing ALS.
However, there isn’t much evidence proving that vitamin E can improve ALS symptoms.
Cancer Prevention and Treatment
Though some sources indicate that taking a vitamin E supplement could reduce cancer risk, there still isn’t enough scientific evidence to support this claim.
For example, some studies suggested that supplementing with vitamin E might lower the risk of advanced prostate cancer in smokers by 32% and the risk of prostate cancer-induced death by 41%.
However, many other studies claim the opposite—that vitamin E supplements don’t reduce the risk of cancer incidence or development.
What’s more, some studies even report that vitamin E supplementation could increase the risk of prostate cancer by 17%.
Vitamin E Foods
Food is the best side-effect-free source of vitamin E, and there’s no shortage of food rich in this essential nutrient—you can find it in oils, vegetables, nuts, seeds, fruits, seafood, etc.
Let’s have a look.
Wheat Germ Oil
Wheat germ oil provides a whopping 20 mg (135% DV) of vitamin E per tablespoon, the highest amount of all oils on our list.
Hazelnut oil contains 6.4 mg (43% DV) of vitamin E per tablespoon.
Sunflower oil is another of the vital vitamin E sources, providing 5.6 mg (37% DV) per tablespoon.
Almond oil offers slightly less vitamin E than sunflower oil—5.3 mg (36% DV) per tablespoon.
Cottonseed oil contains 4.8 mg (32% DV) of vitamin E in a tablespoon.
This oil provides 4.6 mg (31% DV) of vitamin E per serving of one tablespoon.
Rice Bran Oil
It’s one of the best oil sources of vitamin E, providing up to 4.4 mg (29% DV) in a serving of one tablespoon.
Grapeseed oil provides 3.9 mg (26% DV) of vitamin E per tablespoon.
Canola oil provides 2.4 mg (16% DV) of vitamin E per tablespoon.
One tablespoon of palm oil offers 2.2 mg (14% DV) of vitamin E.
Sunflower seeds are some of the best plant foods that contain vitamin E, providing 10 mg (66% DV) of vitamin E per oz.
Almonds are an excellent vitamin E source, providing 7.3 mg (48% DV) per oz.
Hazelnuts offer 6.4 mg (28% DV) per oz.
Pine nuts provide 2.7 mg (18% DV) per oz.
Peanuts are among the good sources of vitamin E and contain 2.4 mg (16% DV) per oz.
Brazil nuts provide 1.6 mg (11% DV) per oz.
This seed contains 0.8 mg (5% DV) of vitamin E per oz.
They provide 0.6 mg (4% DV) of vitamin E per oz.
Pecans contain 0.4 mg (3% DV) of vitamin E per oz.
Cashew nuts will give you 0.3 mg (2% DV) of vitamin E per oz.
Half of this fruit provides 5.9 mg (39% DV) vitamin E, making it one of the best foods high in vitamin E.
Avocado is one of the well-known vitamin E fruits, boasting 2.1 mg (14% DV) in half a fruit (about 35 oz).
Half a mango offers up to 1.5 mg (10% DV).
One medium kiwifruit amounts to 1.0 mg (7% DV) of vitamin E, making it a decent fruit source of vitamin E.
Blackberries offer 0.8 mg (6% DV) per 1/2 cup.
They are also relatively high in vitamin E, providing up to 0.6 mg (4% DV) in half a cup.
Dried cranberries offer 0.6 mg (4% DV) of vitamin E per oz.
Pickled olives are also a decent source of vitamin E. You can get 0.5 mg (3% DV) by consuming only five olives.
One medium apricot offers 0.3 mg (2% DV) of vitamin E.
Consuming 10 raspberries will provide you with as much as 0.2 mg (1% DV) of vitamin E.
Abalone provides up to 3.4 mg (23% DV) in a 3-oz serving.
Atlantic salmon provides 2.0 mg (14% DV) of vitamin E per 1/2 fillet (nearly 7 oz).
Rainbow trout is also food high in vitamin E, providing 2.0 mg (13% DV) of vitamin E per fillet.
Crayfish provides 1.3 mg (8% DV) of vitamin E in a 3-oz serving.
You get 1.0 mg (7% DV) of vitamin E by consuming a single tablespoon of fish roe.
Cooked octopus provides 1.02 mg (7% DV) in a 3-oz serving.
Lobster is also one of the vitamin-E-rich foods, providing 0.9 mg (6% DV) in a 3 oz serving.
There’s 0.8 mg (5% DV) of vitamin E per oz in dried cod.
It contains 2.4 mg (16% DV) of vitamin E per cup, making it one of the good tocopherol foods.
Snails contain 1.4 mg (9% DV) of vitamin E per oz.
Red Sweet Pepper
You get 1.9 mg (13% DV) of vitamin E in just one average raw red sweet pepper. Sautéed peppers provide almost double the amount—3.28 mg (22% DV) per cup.
Raw turnip greens contain 1.6 mg (10% DV) of vitamin E per cup.
Boiled beet greens are also good vitamin E food sources, providing 1.3 mg (9% DV) of vitamin E per 1/2 cup.
Baked butternut squash contains 2.64 mg (18% DV) of vitamin E per cup.
Mustard greens contain up to 1.3 mg (8% DV) of vitamin E per 1/2 cup.
Boiled broccoli is another good source of vitamin E, especially for vegans and vegetarians. It contains 1.1 mg (8% DV) per 1/2 cup.
Four spears of cooked asparagus provide 0.9 mg (6% DV) of vitamin E.
Raw Swiss chard is a top vitamin E food, containing 0.9 mg (6% DV) of vitamin E per leaf.
Raw collards provide 0.8 mg (5% DV) of vitamin E per cup.
Raw spinach is one of the best tocopherol foods among vegetables, containing 0.6 mg (4% DV) per cup.
Vitamin E Deficiency
Vitamin E deficiency is pretty rare due to its wide availability in foods. It’s more commonly a result of disorders that inhibit fat absorption and, in turn, impair fat-soluble vitamin E’s absorption.
Such fat-malabsorption conditions include:
- Crohn’s disease
- Short bowel syndrome
- Chronic pancreatitis
- Cystic fibrosis
- Primary biliary cirrhosis, etc.
Additionally, prematurely born babies with low birth weight (under 3.3 oz) are also at risk of vitamin E deficiency.
Vitamin E Deficiency Symptoms:
The lack of this essential nutrient may produce various symptoms:
- Impaired immune response
- Ataxia (impaired balance or movement coordination)
- Dysarthria (slow slurred speech due to speech muscles weakness)
- Peripheral neuropathy (numbness, weakness, and pain in arms and legs)
- Lower limb areflexia (lack of reflexes in the legs)
- Skeletal myopathy (skeletal muscle weakness)
- Retinopathy (e.g., retinitis pigmentosa that can lead to blindness), etc.
Recommended Vitamin E Dosage
Recommended vitamin E intake differs according to age:
|0–6 months||4 mg|
|7–12 months||5 mg|
|1–3 years||6 mg|
|4–8 years||7 mg|
|9–13 years||11 mg|
|14–18 years||15 mg|
|19+ years||15 mg|
Vitamin E Side Effects
There are no documented side effects of vitamin E consumed from vitamin E food sources. However, though they’re generally considered to be safe for healthy consumers, vitamin E supplements may produce the following side effects in rare cases:
- Blurred vision
- Stomach cramps
- Gonadal dysfunction
- Creatinuria (the presence of creatine in urine)
Additionally, vitamin E creams can cause allergic reactions (irritation, itching, redness, swelling). Furthermore, vaping devices and e-cigarettes containing vitamin E acetate may lead to severe lung injury.
Excessive vitamin E supplement intake increases the risk of the previously mentioned side effects.
Vitamin E Overdose/Toxicity
Excessive vitamin E intake can produce side effects of varying severity listed in the table above. Some of the most severe outcomes include an increased risk of death, hemorrhagic stroke, and fatal bleeding due to blood thinning and interference with blood clotting.
To avoid vitamin E overdose, make sure not to exceed vitamin E tolerable upper limit (UL):
|1–3 years||200 mg|
|4–8 years||300 mg|
|9–13 years||600 mg|
|14–18 years||800 mg|
|19+ years||1,000 mg|
|Pregnancy (14–18 years)||800 mg|
|Pregnancy (19+ years)||1,000 mg|
|Breastfeeding (14–18 years)||800 mg|
|Breastfeeding (19+ years)||1,000 mg|
Who Should Avoid Vitamin E Supplements
The following groups may experience severe side effects from vitamin E supplementation. Therefore, they should avoid it. So, if you fall under any of these categories, consult your doctor before deciding to take a vitamin E supplement.
Heart Disease Patients
Taking over 400 IU of vitamin E a day increases the risk of death in heart disease patients.
Taking over 400 IU of vitamin E a day increases the risk of death in stroke patients.
Taking over 400 IU of vitamin E increases the risk of death in diabetes patients.
Bleeding Disorder Patients
Vitamin E interferes with blood clotting and exacerbates bleeding.
Vitamin E reduces the bone-strength-providing benefits of exercise.
Head/Neck Cancer Patients
Vitamin E dosage higher than 400 UI increases the risk of cancer returning.
Prostate Cancer Patients
Vitamin E might increase the risk of prostate cancer and exacerbate the current condition in prostate cancer patients.
Retinitis Pigmentosa Patients
Taking over 400 UI may accelerate vision loss in such patients.
Surgical patients should stop vitamin E supplement intake two weeks before surgery to avoid the risk of bleeding.
Vitamin E in Pregnancy, Breastfeeding, and Infancy
Supplementing with vitamin E is generally during pregnancy, breastfeeding, and infancy, as long as you don’t exceed the recommended daily doses.
However, taking vitamin E supplements in the first eight weeks of pregnancy without consulting your doctor may be harmful to the fetus.
Like every other substance, vitamin E can be both beneficial and harmful, depending on how you use it. This means that, despite being widely available as an OTC supplement, vitamin E supplements should be taken with caution in terms of dosage, etc.
What are the benefits of taking vitamin E?
Vitamin E can improve your immune system, vision, cognitive health and offer prevention against many diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, heart disease, ALS, and many others.
Other benefits of taking vitamin E include preventing its deficiency, antioxidant properties, protecting blood vessels, and preventing blood clots.
Is it good to put vitamin E on your face?
Vitamin creams and oils are generally beneficial when it comes to hyperpigmentation, wrinkles, acne, and scarring. They can also help you make your lips smooth and soft.
However, topical application of vitamin E on the face may produce specific side effects like rashes or itching in more sensitive individuals.
What is the best form of vitamin E?
Oral vitamin E is the best form, though topical formulas are great too. This is because following the intake and digestion of oral vitamin E (e.g., vitamin E capsules), it enters the bloodstream via which it reaches various body organs (such as the heart, brain, and skin).
On the contrary, when topically applied, vitamin E may not reach other internal organs as the digested oral form would.
Which fruits contain vitamin C and E?
Most vitamin E fruits are also good sources of vitamin C. For example:
- Mamey sapote—45% DV of vitamin C and 25% DV of vitamin E per cup
- Avocado—with 11% DV of vitamin C and 14% DV of vitamin E in 3.5 oz
- Mango—67% DV of vitamin C and 9.7% DV of vitamin E per cup
Which fruit is rich in vitamin E?
Some of the best fruit sources of vitamin E include mamey sapote, avocado, and mango, providing 39% DV, 14% DV, and 10% DV in a half-fruit serving, respectively.
On the other hand, kiwifruit provides 7% DV in one medium fruit, while blackberries provide 6% DV in a half-cup.
How can I get vitamin E naturally?
Food is the best natural source of vitamin E. This vitamin E is available in most food items, including fruits, vegetables, seafood, animal foods, and cooking oil.
Undoubtedly the best natural sources of vitamin E are cooking oils such as wheat germ oil, hazelnut oil, sunflower oil, etc.
Are eggs high in vitamin E?
Eggs offer minimal amounts of vitamin E. One large fried egg offers 0.603 mg (4% DV) of vitamin E. Eggs also help improve vitamin E absorption due to their high-fat content.
How much vitamin E should you take daily?
The appropriate vitamin E dosage varies depending on the age group and health condition. Generally, healthy adults should aim towards 15 mg daily, while pregnant women’s optimal daily dose amounts to 19 mg.
In addition, certain groups of people (such as diabetes, stroke, and prostate cancer patients) should seek medical advice before supplementing with vitamin E.
Is vitamin E really bad for you?
There’s some suspicion that vitamin E can exacerbate particular conditions such as stroke, heart disease, etc. Therefore, vitamin E supplements should be taken with caution and preferably after consulting a medical professional.
Which vegetables contain vitamin E?
Vegetables rich in vitamin E include butternut squash (18% per cup), red sweet peppers (13% DV per pepper), turnip greens (10% DV per cup), cooked beet greens (9% DV per ½ cup).
Mustard greens, asparagus, swiss chard, collards, and spinach are also valuable vegetable vitamin E foods.