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Lahey Health is now part of Beth Israel Lahey Health

by Scheinberg D

Image for nut article Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin. This means it is stored in the liver and fatty tissues. There are 8 forms. Alpha-tocopherol is the most active form in humans. It is an antioxidant. This means it acts to protect the body's cells against the effects of free radicals. These are normal by-products of metabolism, but they can cause cell damage.

Role

The role of vitamin E is to:

  • Act as an antioxidant in the body
  • Help with immune system function

Recommended Intake:

Age Group Recommended Dietary Allowance
Females Males
1-3 6 milligrams (mg) 6 mg
4-8 7 mg 7 mg
9-13 11 mg 11 mg
14-18 15 mg 15 mg
19+pregnancy 15 mg not applicable
19+ 15 mg 15 mg
19+ lactation 19 mg not applicable

Vitamin E Deficiency

This health problem is rare. In developed countries, it is seen only in people with certain health problems, such as liver disease or cystic fibrosis.

Symptoms are:

  • Problems with the nervous system, such as poor balance and coordination
  • Muscle weakness
  • Thinning of the lining of the inner eye

People who do not get enough vitamin E often do not get enough vitamins A, D, and K.

Vitamin E Toxicity

Vitamin E does not leave the body in the urine like most water-soluble vitamins. It can build up in the body. The tolerable upper intake level (UL) for adults from dietary sources and supplements is 1,100 milligrams (mg) daily. The UL is lower for children.

Major Food Sources

Food Serving size Vitamin E content
milligrams (mg)
Wheat germ oil 1 tablespoon 20.3
Sunflower seeds, dry roasted 1 ounce 7.4
Sunflower oil 1 tablespoon 5.6
Hazelnuts, dry roasted 1 ounce 4.3
Safflower oil 1 tablespoon 4.6
Almonds, dry roasted 1 ounce 6.8
Peanut butter 2 tablespoons 2.9
Corn oil 1 tablespoon 1.9
Mango, raw ½ cup 0.7
Peanuts, dry roasted 1 ounce 2.2
Broccoli, boiled ½ cup 1.2

Health Problems

People at Risk for Vitamin E Deficiency

People who may need a supplement because they lack vitamin E are:

  • People who have problems absorbing dietary fat—Fat is needed to absorb vitamin E. This is because it is a fat-soluble vitamin. Some health problems that can cause fat malabsorption are Crohn disease, cystic fibrosis, celiac disease, pancreatic enzyme deficiency, and liver disease.
  • People who have gastric bypass surgery.
  • Infants with very low birth weight

Tips to Get More

To get more vitamin E:

  • Sprinkle wheat germ on cereal or oatmeal.
  • Add sunflower seeds or nuts to a salad or stir-fry.
  • Add mango or blueberries to yogurt for an afternoon snack.
  • Choose a multi-vitamin with vitamin E.

RESOURCES

Eat Right—Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics  https://www.eatright.org 

United States Department of Agriculture  https://www.usda.gov 

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Dietitians of Canada  https://www.dietitians.ca 

Health Canada  https//www.canada.ca 

References

Dietary supplement fact sheet: vitamin E. Office of Dietary Supplements: National Institutes of Health website. Available at: http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminE-HealthProfessional. Accessed August 27, 2020.

Vitamin E. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:  https://www.dynamed.com/drug-monograph/vitamin-e . Accessed August 27, 2020.

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