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. How much vitamin E do you need?
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
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
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.