Updated 20 May 2013

Vitamin E

Vitamin E (tocopherol) is a powerful antioxidant. It is a fat soluble vitamin which is stored in the body for only a short time, requiring a regular intake.

Vitamin E (tocopherol) is a powerful antioxidant. It is a fat soluble vitamin which is stored in the body for only a short time, requiring a regular intake.

What it does for you

Like all antioxidants, vitamin E neutralises the potentially harmful free radicals in the body. Free radicals cause changes in your cells’ DNA, which can lead to cancers.

Vitamin E is very important for keeping your cell walls in good condition and maintaining healthy nerves, skin, muscles, red blood cells, heart and circulation. It also enhances the utilisation of vitamin A.

Which foods have vitamin E?

Oils such as wheat germ oil, sunflower oil, sunflower seeds, nuts such as hazelnuts, almonds, pine nuts sweet potatoes, avocado pears and dark green vegetables such as spinach.

How much vitamin E do you need?

The recommended dietary allowance/adequate intake (RDA/AI) for this vitamin is 15mg per day for both men and women, although breastfeeding women need slightly more.

How much vitamin E is too much?

A major review of 68 studies recently found that vitamin E, given on its own or in combination, significantly increased mortality (death). For this reason, it's important to stick to recommendations for this vitamin, and to never exceed an intake of 1000mg per day.

Signs of vitamin E deficiency

Wounds that are slow to heal, varicose veins, loss of muscle tone and infertility all point to a vitamin E deficiency. Bruising easily can also be a sign of a deficiency, as well as high homocysteine levels.

Research on vitamin E

Vitamin E supplements may protect against cancer of the lung and cervix, as well as other cancers. They may also reduce the onset of cataracts and strengthen the immune system against infections.

Daily vitamin E supplements of up to 1000mg appear to lower the risk of stroke, heart disease and angina by reducing the formation of fatty plaques on the walls of arteries, as well as reducing arthritic pain.


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