Vitamin E is not one vitamin, but a family of eight fat-soluble substances that all contain tocopherol. However, alpha-tocopherol and gamma-tocopherol are the most biologically active forms of vitamin E for humans.
While it is an important nutrient, it is already ubiquitous in the food system from industrial seed oils, so most people do not need to worry about getting more vitamin E.
- What Are the Roles of Vitamin E in the Body?
- Deficiency Conditions Associated With Vitamin E
- Who Is at Risk for Vitamin E Deficiency?
- What foods are highest in Vitamin E?
- Highest Vitamin E Recipes
- Satiety Response to Vitamin E
- Stretch Target for Vitamin E
- Availability of Vitamin E in the Food System
- Synergistic Nutrients with Vitamin E
- Processing Losses
- Nutrient Profile of High Vitamin E Foods
- How Do I Know if I’m Getting Enough Vitamin E?
What Are the Roles of Vitamin E in the Body?
- Vitamin E has many roles in the body, but it is mainly known for its job as an antioxidant – it works by scavenging free radicals that damage cells and tissues.
- We need vitamin E to use oxygen and prevent fatty acids in our cell membranes from becoming damaged or oxidised.
- The immune system requires vitamin E to function properly.
- Vitamin E is known to prevent the formation of blood clots and to regulate the clumping of platelets.
- Studies have shown that vitamin E is essential in preventing degeneration of eyesight and conditions like macular degeneration and cataracts.
- The body requires the antioxidant abilities of vitamin E to prevent neurodegenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, dementia, and other nervous system disorders.
- Vitamin E is fat-soluble, so we can easily store it for later and don’t need to consume it every day. It is often added to foods to prevent spoilage due to its antioxidant properties.
- Although vitamin E is essential, we are unlikely to be deficient because it is so common, especially with the increased use of vegetable oils over the past century.
Because vitamin E is so ubiquitous, we don’t know a lot about the levels that cause a deficiency in humans. However, when we induce deficiencies in lab animals, they become infertile.
Deficiencies in humans are likely to lead to other conditions and symptoms, like:
- poor healing of the gut, skin, and lungs,
- heart disease,
- hemolytic anemia,
- eye disorders,
- decreased cognition,
- increased propensity for thyroid disorders
- infection, and
- chronic degenerative diseases.
Who Is at Risk for Vitamin E Deficiency?
Because vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin, the body needs to utilise dietary fats to absorb this nutrient. As a result, conditions that contribute to fat malabsorption like:
- celiac disease,
- liver dysfunction,
- irritable bowel syndrome (IBS),
- inflammatory bowel disease (IBD),
- cystic fibrosis, and
- short bowel syndrome.
Someone living in a developing area where foods containing vitamin E is scarce may be at increased risk for deficiency. Similarly, someone consuming minimal amounts of fat or vitamin E are also at risk.
What foods are highest in Vitamin E?
Because vitamin E is fat-soluble, it is found readily in fatty plant foods like nuts and seeds. Animal foods contain it, too.
Natural whole foods that contain more vitamin E include:
- sunflower seeds
- olive oil
- green peppers
- lime juice
- Brazil nuts
- sweet potato
If you’re consuming a plant source of vitamin E, ensure you’re eating it with fat (i.e., asparagus and olive oil) to boost the absorption of this fat-soluble nutrient.
Highest Vitamin E Recipes
Some of our NutriBooster recipes highest in Vitamin E include:
- Low calorie panna cotta
- Greek yogurt veggie smoothie
- Chocolate nutrient-boosting smoothie
- Hulk green smoothie
- Cauliflower & spinach soup (pictured below)
However, our analysis suggests that people who consume more vitamin E per calorie from whole food sources (like the ones listed above) tend to consume 17% fewer calories.
The satiety response above is based on the ‘cleaned’ data with high levels of all micronutrients that could only be achieved without supplements and fortification removed.
In contrast, the chart below shows the satiety analysis of the ‘uncleaned’ 103,117 data. As we can see, very high intakes of vitamin E (associated with high intakes of industrial seed oils, a common ingredient of ultra-processed foods) align with a higher calorie intake.
The Dietary Recommended Intake (DRI) for Vitamin E has been set at 12 mg of alpha-tocopherol for men and women. The estimated average requirement (EAR) was set at 15 mg alpha-tocopherol.
The Adequate Intake (AI) level is set at 10mg/day, based on the average intake of ‘healthy’ people. The average intake of Optimisers is 18 mg/day, which is noticeably greater than the AI.
While it is hard to overdose on Vitamin E from food, an upper limit of 300 mg/day has been set for supplementation.
Our suggested stretch target aligns with the intake levels associated with greater satiety and has been set at 25 mg/day for men and 20 mg/day for women.
|vitamin E (mg)||25||20|
The chart below illustrates the near-mirror increase of vitamin E and plant-based oils in our food supply.
Synergistic Nutrients with Vitamin E
So, to optimise the beneficial functions of vitamin E, you should ensure you’re getting a complete profile of synergistic nutrients foods that contain more vitamin E naturally per calorie.
Vitamin E is unstable in the presence of light, heat, and alkaline environments. Therefore, up to 80% of Vitamin E is destroyed during flour milling.
Although processed plant oils like corn, safflower, soybean, and sunflower oils contain high amounts of vitamin E, they have been processed under high heat and therefore have questionable contents of this nutrient.
In addition, because refined fats provide minimal satiety and drive excess calorie intake, high intakes of these oils have been linked to diabetes, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), heart disease, and inflammation. For this reason, they might not be reliable sources of vitamin E!
The nutrient fingerprint chart below shows that vitamin E is easy to find in a nutrient-dense diet, and it is unlikely that we need to seek out this nutrient actively.
How Do I Know if I’m Getting Enough Vitamin E?
If you’re interested in checking if you’re getting enough (but not too much) vitamin E in your diet, you can check your nutrient profile using our Free 7-Day Nutrient Clarity Challenge.
Level Up Your Nutrient Density
The free starter pack includes:
- Maximum Nutrient Density Food List
- Sample Maximum Nutrient Density Recipe Book
- Sample Maximum Nutrient Density Meal Plan.
To get started today, all you have to do is join our new Optimising Nutrition Group here.
Once you join, you will find the Nutritional Optimisation starter pack in the discovery section here.
Nutrient Density Index
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin E
- Thiamine (B1)
- Riboflavin (B2)
- Niacin (B3)
- Pantothenic acid (B5)
- Vitamin B6
- Folate (B9)
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin K1