Vitamin E is a fat-soluble antioxidant that has numerous benefits of skin, heart, and brain. It also plays a vital role in maintaining a healthy immune system and protecting against heart disease and cancer.
You can gain benefits of vitamin E by consuming foods like nuts, seeds, wheat germ, vegetable oils, fish and green leafy vegetables. Since vitamin E is fat soluble, our bodies can store it in the liver for days.
Read on to know more about vitamin E foods and their benefits.
What is vitamin E?
Vitamin E is a group of eight structurally similar fat-soluble compounds that include four tocopherols and four tocotrienols. Each compound is referred to as an isomer (or vitamer ) of vitamin E.
Each of these isomers of vitamin E has unique properties, attributes, characteristics, and health benefits, with important applications while formulating food or beverage products (1).
Alpha-tocopherol is a form of vitamin E that is most commonly found in the western diet.
Vitamin E is essential for vision, reproduction and the health of the blood, brain, and skin. Vitamin E is also needed by the body for the formation of red blood cells. It helps widen the blood vessels to keep the blood from clotting inside them (2).
Vitamin E also acts as an antioxidant. It helps protect the body from damage-causing free radicals which can harm cells, tissues, and organs.
Vitamin E deficiency is extremely rare and is usually caused by fat malabsorption disorders or genetic abnormalities. Vitamin E supplements, on the other hand, can cause harm in certain individuals with heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.
The recommended intake of vitamin E
The amount of vitamin E you need per day differs according to your age. The average daily recommended amounts of vitamin E are (3) –
- Birth to 6 months: 4 mg
- Infants 7 to 12 months: 5 mg
- Children 1 to 3 years: 6 mg
- Children 4 to 8 years: 7 mg
- Children 9 to 15 years: 11 mg
- Teens 14 to 18 years: 15 mg
- Adults: 15 mg
- Pregnant teens and women: 15 mg
- Breastfeeding teens and women: 19 mg
Foods high in vitamin E
It is better to obtain vitamin E from natural food sources rather than synthetic vitamin E supplements or processed foods. The majority of synthetic vitamin E found in supplements is not the type that is found in nature and is not very helpful in boosting health and preventing diseases.
So, it is best to consume natural vitamin E rich foods to gain from its health benefits. Here are some of the best food sources of vitamin E –
1. Wheat germ oil
One tablespoon of wheat germ oil contains 20 mg of vitamin E, which provides 135 percent of the daily requirement. Wheat germ oil is made from the kernel of the wheat plant.
This reproductive part of the wheat plant is rich in octacosanol and fatty acids. Wheat germ oil also contains in vitamin A, vitamin D, and lecithin.
The benefits of wheat germ oil include improving skin health, preventing acne, protecting heart health, and managing diabetes.
2. Sunflower seeds
A one-ounce serving of sunflower seeds contains 10 mg of vitamin E, which provides 66 percent of the daily requirement for this vitamin.
Sunflower seeds also contain B vitamins, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, calcium, potassium, and proteins. These nutritious seeds help improve cholesterol levels, support bone health, improve skin and hair and promote weight loss.
One ounce of almonds contains 7.3 mg of vitamin E, which amounts to 48 percent of the daily value per serving. Almonds are an excellent snack as they also contain healthy fats, protein, and magnesium.
They help reduce blood sugar levels, improve heart health, lower bad cholesterol levels, and aid in weight loss.
4. Hazelnut oil
There is almost 6.4 mg of vitamin E in one tablespoon of hazelnut oil, which can take care of 43 percent of your daily need for vitamin E.
This oil is packed with vitamins and fatty acids that protect the skin from sun damage, boost collagen production and reduce scarring and fine lines. It can be used for cooking and in salads, and you can also massage with it.
5. Mamey sapotes
Just half of this fruit contains 5.9 mg of vitamin E, which provides 39 percent of the daily requirement. This fruit, which is cultivated in Mexico and other countries in central America, contains a wide variety of nutrients that are beneficial for health.
It also includes vitamin B, vitamin E, potassium, manganese, fiber, and other antioxidants. It helps boost immunity and reduce blood pressure thanks to its high concentration of potassium.
6. Sunflower oil
One tablespoon of sunflower oil contains 5.6 mg of vitamin E which takes care of 37 percent of the daily requirement.
Sunflower oil is considered to be one of the healthiest oils for consumption due to its wide variety of health-enhancing nutrients.
It is low in saturated fats and rich in polyunsaturated fats. It provides cardiovascular benefits, prevents arthritis, reduces the risk of cancers, lowers inflammation and reduces signs of premature aging.
7. Almond oil
One tablespoon of almond oil provides 5.3 mg of vitamin E, which amounts to 36 percent of the daily value. Almond oil has been linked to a variety of health benefits including stabilizing blood sugar levels, improving heart health, preventing age-related macular degeneration and cognitive decline.
This mild and soothing oil is also used for many skin and hair care products.
One ounce of hazelnuts contains 4.3 mg of vitamin E, which provides 28 percent of the daily value per serving. Besides adding a nutty and rich flavor to your desserts, hazelnuts also offer many health benefits.
They are rich in dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals, and health-promoting phytochemicals. Hazelnuts are also exceptionally rich in folates.
A 3-ounce serving of abalone contains 3.4 mg of vitamin E, which is 23 percent of the daily value. Abalone is a marine gastropod mollusk, which means it is a type of marine snail that is considered to be an expensive delicacy in many parts of the world.
They are a good source of omega 3, iodine and phosphorous. Their health benefits include reduced risk of heart disease, cancer prevention, improved liver, and kidney function.
10. Pine nuts
One ounce of pine nuts contains 2.7 mg of vitamin E, which provide 18 percent of the daily requirement. Pine nuts also contain many health-promoting nutrients which boost energy, curb appetite, help manage diabetes and improve heart health.
11. Goose Meat
One cup of goose meat contains 2.5 mg of vitamin E which takes care of 16 percent of the daily vitamin E requirement. Goose meat is also a rich source of vitamin B, and A, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, and zinc.
One ounce of peanuts contains 2.4 mg of vitamin E which provides 16 percent of the daily need for this nutrient. Peanuts are rich in essential nutrients like dietary fiber, minerals, protein, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids, and antioxidants.
These legumes improve satiety, reduce the risk of diabetes and heart disease, lower cholesterol levels and also contain anti-aging properties.
13. Atlantic salmon
Half a fillet of Atlantic salmon contains 2 mg of vitamin E, which provides 14 percent of the daily requirement of this vitamin.
Atlantic salmon is also abundant in omega-3 fatty acids, which prove its many heart health benefits. It also helps reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration.
Half an avocado contains 2.1 mg of vitamin E, which amounts of 14 percent of the daily value. Avocados also contain antioxidants and monounsaturated fats.
They help boost heart health, improve digestion, reduce the risk of cancer, improve liver health and improve eye health.
15. Red sweet pepper
Just one medium pepper contains 1.9 mg vitamin E, which is 13 percent of the daily value. These peppers contain 200 percent of your daily vitamin C requirement and also provide vitamin B6, vitamin A, and folate.
Specific enzymes in these peppers such as lutein protect the eyes of cataracts and macular degeneration.
Signs of vitamin E deficiency
A deficiency of vitamin E is very uncommon and occurs as a result of some underlying health condition. People with cystic fibrosis, Crohn’s disease, chronic pancreatitis, cholestasis or short bowel syndrome are at a higher risk of developing this deficiency.
Vitamin E deficiency can also occur in newborns and babies born prematurely. The signs of vitamin E deficiency include –
1. Muscle weakness
Vitamin E is essential for the central nervous system. Its deficiency causes oxidative stress which leads to muscle weakness.
2. Low immunity
Lack of vitamin E inhibits the immune cells which can put you at the risk of infections.
3. Vision deterioration
Deficiency in vitamin E can weaken the light receptors in the retina, and this can lead to loss of vision over time.
When the body has little vitamin E, it can cause damage to nerve fibers which prevents the nerves from transmitting signals correctly. This condition can lead to peripheral neuropathy which causes numbness and tingling.
5. Difficulty in walking
Deficiency in vitamin E can cause Purkinje neurons to break down, and this can harm their ability to transmit signals, which lead to difficulty in walking.
If you notice any of these symptoms of vitamin E deficiency, you must consult your doctor. Deficient levels of vitamin E can indicate an underlying health issue.
Although increasing your intake of vitamin E foods is the first-line of treatment, in some cases, the doctor may prescribe a high-dose supplement or water-soluble vitamin E supplement.
Precaution and side effects
You should take vitamin E supplements only if a doctor prescribes it. Excessive levels of vitamin E can lead to diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, fatigue, headache, blurred vision, and abnormal bleeding.
People in poor health that take high doses of vitamin E are at an increased risk of death. Oral use of Vitamin E can also increase the risk of prostate cancer.
Too much vitamin E can also interact with some medications like anti-tumor antibiotics, anticoagulants, and antiplatelet drugs.
If you take vitamin E with statins or niacin, it could reduce niacin’s effect. Vitamin E also reduces the impact of vitamin K.
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin that has antioxidant properties. It is vital for the health of your blood, brain, and skin. The best way to have more vitamin E is to eat more vitamin E rich food rather than synthetic vitamin E supplements or processed foods.
Diet rich in vitamin E include wheat germ oil, sunflower seeds, almonds, hazelnut oil, pine nuts, goose meat, and Atlantic salmon.