Vitamins>Vitamin E

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  • Vitamin E may reduce the risk of heart disease
  • Vitamin E may help lower the risk of cancer

How it works

Vitamin E is an anti-oxidant vitamin, helping to neutralize potentially damaging free radicals in the body. It is particularly important for helping to keep cell walls in good condition and for the healthy maintenance of the skin, nerves, muscles, red blood cells, body circulation, and heart. Vitamin E improves the activity of vitamin A in the body, and, unlike other fat-soluble vitamins, seems to be stored for only a short time in the body - indicating the need for very regular intakes.

Absorption helpers Vitamin C and selenium help the action of vitamin E in the body.

Absorption inhibitors The drug cholestyramine, taken to reduce raised cholesterol levels, inhibits absorption of Vitamin E. Excess intakes of iron, copper, and manganese can all reduce vitamin E in the body as can trans-fats in some margarine and processed food, air pollution, and the contraceptive pill.

Taking vitamin E supplements

The RDA for vitamin E (10mg) is equivalent to 27g of sunflower seeds. The most effective supplement form of vitamin E is d-alpha tocopherol; avoid dl-alpha tocopherol, which is not as effective. The safe upper limit, showing no short or long term adverse effects, is 800mg a day. Optimum nutritionists recommend 100-1000mg a day for adults as a preventive and therapeutic dose.

Combining supplements Products with 25mcg of selenium for each 200mg of vitamin E will increase its potency. Take any supplements containing iron at least eight hours before or after vitamin E supplements to avoid vitamin E destruction.

Precautions When taken by people with vitamin K deficiency, high intakes of vitamin E can adversely affect blood-clotting mechanisms. People with high blood pressure, rheumatic heart disease, or ischeamic heart disease should only take high intakes under close medical supervision.

Why take this supplement?
 

People with a diet high in polyunsaturated fats that includes a high proportion of margarine, vegetable oils, nuts, and seeds, may need vitamin E supplements as much as people who cannot absorb fat. Vitamin E may also be appropriate for people with a family history of heart disease, those exposed to pollution, and anyone interested in slowing down the ageing process. The following signs may also indicate a need for this supplement:

  • Exhaustion after light exercise
  • Easy bruising
  • Slow wound healing
  • Varicose veins
  • Loss of muscle tone
  • Lack of sex drive
  • Infertility

Therapeutic uses

  • Heart disease Vitamin E supplements of 80-100g may lower the risk of heart disease, stroke, and angina by reducing the formation of atherosclerosis plaques on artery walls.
  • Cancer Good intakes of vitamin E may help protect against some forms of cancer, especially of the lung and the cervix.
  • Cataracts People who take vitamin E supplements may have a lower incidence of developing cataracts.
  • Infections Vitamin E supplements may enhance the action of the immune system to fight infection.
  • Osteoarthritis Vitamin E may help to relieve the pain associated with osteoarthritis, possibly through its action as an anti-inflammatory agent.
  • Male fertility Intakes of 600mg of vitamin E daily have been shown to significantly benefit sperm numbers and also help to improve male fertility.

Chemical names

  • Tocopherol: alpha, beta, gamma, and delta

Preparations

  • Capsules
  • Tablets
  • Liquid
  • Oil
  • Soft gel capsules

RDA for adults
 

10mg

Top sources of vitamin E mg/100g of food

  • Wheatgerm oil137mg/100g
  • Sunflower seed oil49mg/100g
  • Sunflower seeds37mg/100g
  • Hazelnuts25mg/100g
  • Almonds24mg/100g
  • Pine nuts14mg/100g
  • Sweet potato4mg/100g
  • Avocado3mg/100g
  • Muesli3mg/100g
  • Spinach2mg/100g