Vitamin E Food Sources and Deficiency Symptoms

Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin with several forms, but alpha-tocopherol is the only one used by the human body. Its main role is to act as an antioxidant, scavenging loose electrons—so-called “free radicals”—that can damage cells. [1] It also enhances immune function and prevents clots from forming in heart arteries. Antioxidant vitamins, including vitamin E, came to public attention in the 1980s when scientists began to understand that free radical damage was involved in the early stages of artery-clogging atherosclerosis, and might also contribute to cancer, vision loss, and a host of other chronic conditions. Vitamin E has the ability to protect cells from free radical damage as well as stop the production of free radical cells entirely. However, conflicting study results have dimmed some of the promise of using high dose vitamin E to prevent chronic diseases. Vitamin E Food Sources and Deficiency Symptoms

Recommended Amounts

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for vitamin E for males and females ages 14 years and older is 15 mg daily (or 22 international units, IU), including women who are pregnant. Lactating women need slightly more at 19 mg (28 IU) daily.

Vitamin E and Health

Heart diseaseCancerAge-related vision diseasesCognitive function and neurodegenerative diseases

Food Sources

Vitamin E is found in plant-based oils, nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables.

  • Wheat germ oil
  • Sunflower, safflower, and soybean oil
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Almonds
  • Peanuts, peanut butter
  • Beet greens, collard greens, spinach
  • Pumpkin
  • Red bell pepper
  • Asparagus
  • Mango
  • Avocado

Signs of Deficiency

Because vitamin E is found in a variety of foods and supplements, a deficiency in the U.S. is rare. People who have digestive disorders or do not absorb fat properly (e.g., pancreatitis, cystic fibrosis, celiac disease) can develop a vitamin E deficiency. The following are common signs of a deficiency:

  • Retinopathy (damage to the retina of the eyes that can impair vision)
  • Peripheral neuropathy (damage to the peripheral nerves, usually in the hands or feet, causing weakness or pain)
  • Ataxia (loss of control of body movements)
  • Decreased immune function

Toxicity

There is no evidence of toxic effects from vitamin E found naturally in foods. Most adults who obtain more than the RDA of 22 IU daily are using multivitamins or separate vitamin E supplements that contain anywhere from 400-1000 IU daily. There have not been reports of harmful side effects of supplement use in healthy people. However, there is a risk of excess bleeding, particularly with doses greater than 1000 mg daily or if an individual is also using a blood thinning medication such as warfarin. For this reason, an upper limit for vitamin E has been set for adults 19 years and older of 1000 mg daily (1465 IU) of any form of tocopherol supplement. [1]

Tagged : / / / /

Vitamin E: Functions and Recommendations

Vitamin E: Functions and Recommendations

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin.

Function

Vitamin E has the following functions:

  • It is an antioxidant. This means it protects body tissue from damage caused by substances called free radicals. Free radicals can harm cells, tissues, and organs. They are believed to play a role in certain conditions related to aging.
  • The body also needs vitamin E to help keep the immune system strong against viruses and bacteria. Vitamin E is also important in the formation of red blood cells. It helps the body use vitamin K. It also helps widen blood vessels and keep blood from clotting inside them.
  • Cells use vitamin E to interact with each other. It helps them carry out many important functions.

Whether vitamin E can prevent cancer, heart disease, dementia, liver disease, and stroke still requires further research.

Food Sources

The best way to get the daily requirement of vitamin E is by eating food sources. Vitamin E is found in the following foods:

  • Vegetable oils (such as wheat germ, sunflower, safflower, corn, and soybean oils)
  • Nuts (such as almonds, peanuts, and hazelnuts/filberts)
  • Seeds (such as sunflower seeds)
  • Green leafy vegetables (such as spinach and broccoli)
  • Fortified breakfast cereals, fruit juices, margarine, and spreads.

Fortified means that vitamins have been added to the food. Check the Nutrition Fact Panel on the food label.

Products made from these foods, such as margarine, also contain vitamin E.

Side Effects

Eating vitamin E in foods is not risky or harmful. However, high doses of vitamin E supplements (alpha-tocopherol supplements) might increase the risk of bleeding in the brain (hemorrhagic stroke).

High levels of vitamin E may also increase the risk for birth defects. However, it needs more research.

Low intake may lead to hemolytic anemia in premature babies.

Recommendations

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for vitamins reflect how much of each vitamin most people should get each day.

  • The RDA for vitamins may be used as goals for each person.
  • How much of each vitamin you need depends on your age and gender.
  • Other factors, such as pregnancy, breastfeeding, and illnesses may increase the amount you need.

The Food and Nutrition Board at the Institute of Medicine Recommended Intakes for individuals for vitamin E:

Infants (adequate intake of vitamin E)

  • 0 to 6 months: 4 mg/day
  • 7 to 12 months: 5 mg/day

Children

  • 1 to 3 years: 6 mg/day
  • 4 to 8 years: 7 mg/day
  • 9 to 13 years: 11 mg/day

Adolescents and adults

  • 14 and older: 15 mg/day
  • Pregnant teens and women: 15 mg/day
  • Breastfeeding teens and women: 19 mg/day

Ask your health care provider which amount is best for you.

The highest safe level of vitamin E supplements for adults is 1,500 IU/day for natural forms of vitamin E, and 1,000 IU/day for the man-made (synthetic) form.

Alternative Names

Alpha-tocopherol; Gamma-tocopherol

Tagged : / / / / / /