Vitamin E information, FAQ and product listing page. This page contains everything you need to know about vitamin E.

What is vitamin E and what does it do?

Vitamin E is a family of eight antioxidants, with four tocopherols and four tocotrienols, both groups including alpha, beta, gamma, and delta. Alpha-tocopherol is the form of vitamin E found within humans (the only one), mainly in the body’s blood and issue. This fact sheet refers to alpha-tocopherol, as it is the only form that meets the government’s Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) requirements and has the great nutritional significance.

Vitamin E’s primary function in the human body is that of an antioxidant. It is “perfectly” structured to fight free radicals and prevent the destruction of fats, which are a critical part of cell membranes. Free radicals consist of small particles that can enter your body during normal metabolism periods and cause harm, such as cigarette smoke or pollutants. (1)

Aside from ensuring that cell membranes keep their structural integrity throughout the body, vitamin E also helps protect the fats found in low density lipoproteins (LDL)s from becoming a victim to oxidation. Oxidized LDLs have been found to be a cause in the development of cardiovascular diseases. This is because healthy, non-oxidized LDLs transport cholesterol from the liver to tissues and once they become oxidized, transform and become harmful to the body. (2)

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What foods contain vitamin E?

Primary sources of vitamin E in the American diet come from vegetable oils such as olive, sunflower, and safflower. It can also be found in green leafy vegetables, nuts, and whole grains. Each of the eight forms of vitamin E can be found naturally in foods, with the proportions varying depending on the type of food.

Food Serving Alpha-tocopherol (mg) Gamma-tocopherol (mg)
Olive oil 1 tablespoon 1.9 0.1
Soybean oil 1 tablespoon 1.2 10.8
Corn oil 1 tablespoon 1.9 8.2
Canola oil 1 tablespoon 2.4 4.2
Safflower oil 1 tablespoon 4.6 0.1
Sunflower oil 1 tablespoon 5.6 0.7
Almonds 1 ounce 7.3 0.3
Hazelnuts 1 ounce 4.3 0
Peanuts 1 ounce 2.4 2.4
Spinach ½ cup 1.8 0
Carrots ½ cup 0.4 0
Avocado (California) 1 medium 3.4 0.6

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What is the suggested intake of vitamin E?

The Recommended Dietary Allowance, or RDA, used to be 10 mg per day for men and 8 mg per day for women. This was revised by the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine in the year 2000, with the new figures being listed below. It’s important to note that these RDA figures for vitamin E are based not on the healthiest doses or levels of dosage that would prevent chronic disease, but on the level of MG per day required to prevent deficiency symptoms. (3)

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for Vitamin E:

Life Stage Age Males|mg/day Females|mg/day
Infants 0-6 months 4 mg (6 IU) 4 mg (6 IU)
Infants 7-12 months 5 mg (7.5 IU) 5 mg (7.5 IU)
Children 1-3 years 6 mg (9 IU) 6 mg (9 IU)
Children 4-8 years 7 mg (10.5 IU) 7 mg (10.5 IU)
Children 9-13 years 11 mg (16.5 IU) 11 mg (16.5 IU)
Adolescents 14-18 years 15 mg (22.5 IU) 15 mg (22.5 IU)
Adults 19+ 15 mg (22.5 IU) 15 mg (22.5 IU)
Pregnancy all ages - 15 mg (22.5 IU)
Breastfeeding all ages - 19 mg (28.5 IU)

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What are the signs of vitamin E deficiency?

Symptomatic vitamin E deficiency in healthy individuals has never been reported. (3) This is not the case though for those that are not healthy, such as those who are severely malnourished or suffer from genetic defects that affect the transfer of protein.

Individuals that can have a deficiency of vitamin E suffer from a wide array of health problems. People that suffer from vitamin E can be inflicted with impaired balance and coordination, also known as ataxia, damaged sensory nerves (peripheral neuropathy), muscle weakness, and damage to the eye’s retina (pigmented retinopathy). (2) It’s also been showed in research that children with a severe vitamin E deficiency can develop neurological symptoms.

While vitamin E deficiency is extremely rare, less than optimal intake of vitamin E is pretty common in the United States. In a study conducted by NHANES, The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 16,295 adults over the age of 18 were tested for vitamin E levels in their blood. The study found that 27% of Caucasian subjects, 41% of African Americans, and 28% of Mexicans had less than 20 micromoles a liter of alpha-tocopherol in their body. Levels below this amount can indicate an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. (4)

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Who can benefit from using vitamin E supplements?

Everybody can benefit from taking vitamin E. Vitamin E helps prevent many common diseases and illnesses that inflict millions every year, including cardiovascular disease, cataracts, a decreased immune system, and cancer. Vitamin E can also help treat many diseases as well, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, dementia, and cancer.

Benefits to bodybuilders:

  • Strengthens immune system

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Does vitamin E have any side effects?

There have only been a few side effects noted with adults taking the RDA set forth by The Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine. The most probable side effect to those that take vitamin E is that of impaired blood clotting, which can result in the increased chances of a hemorrhage. It’s important to check with your doctor to see if you could be at risk. (2)

Individuals that are currently on anticoagulant therapy (also known as blood thinners) or those deficient of vitamin K should not take vitamin E supplements. This increases the chance of a hemorrhage. Additionally, there are many medicines that can decrease the absorption rate of vitamin E including isoniazid, mineral oil, orlistat, sucralfate, cholestyramine, and colestipol. (5)

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1. Traber MG. Utilization of vitamin E. Biofactors. 1999;10(2-3):115-120.2. Traber MG. Vitamin E. In: Shils M, Olson JA, Shike M, Ross AC, eds. Nutrition in Health and Disease. 9th ed. Baltimore: Williams & Wilkins; 1999:347-362.3. Sokol R. Vitamin E. In: Ziegler EE, Filer LJ, eds. Present Knowledge in Nutrition. 7th ed: ILSI Press; 1996:130-136.4. Ford ES, Sowell A. Serum alpha-tocopherol status in the United States population: findings from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Am J Epidemiol. 1999;150(3):290-300.5. Hendler SS, Rorvik DR, eds. PDR for Nutritional Supplements. Montvale: Medical Economics Company, Inc; 2001.