Vitamin E: A Practical Guide

What are the benefits of vitamin E in your body?

Vitamin E refers to a family of at least eight fat-soluble substances that have the biological activity of alpha-tocopherol.  Vitamin E helps the body to use oxygen and stops fats from becoming damaged (oxidised).  

Vitamin E is fat-soluble, so we can easily store it for later.  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 increasing use of vegetable oils.

Deficiency conditions associated with vitamin E 

We don’t know a lot about the levels that cause a deficiency in humans because vitamin E is so ubiquitous.  However, when we induce deficiencies in lab animals they become infertile.  

Deficiencies in humans are likely to lead to poor healing of the gut, skin and lungs, increased propensity for thyroid disorders and infection and chronic degenerative diseases.   

Satiety response to vitamin E 

Our satiety analysis suggests that vitamin E does not play a major role in our appetite regulation because it is so plentiful.  The chart below shows that there may be some improved satiety once we push vitamin E beyond 40 or 50 mg/2000 calories.   

No Dietary Recommended Intake for Vitamin E has been set because we don’t see clear deficiency symptoms in humans.  

The Adequate Intake level is set based on the typical intake of healthy people.  The average intake of Optimisers is 18 mg/day which is greater than the adequate intake of 10 mg/day.  

Stretch Target for Vitamin E 

While it is hard to overdose on Vitamin E, an upper limit of 300 mg/day has been set for supplementation.  

Our suggested stretch target to align with the intake levels associated with greater satiety is 60 mg/day for men and 48 mg/day for women.  

nutrient averageAI ULstretch
(men)
stretch
(women)
vitamin E (mg)22710003528

Availability of Vitamin E in the food system

The chart below shows that vitamin E in the food system has increased in line with the use of vegetable oils in our food supply.   

Synergistic nutrients 

Vitamin E works synergistically with vitamins A, B2, B6, B12, C, K copper, folic acid, glutathione, iron, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, sodium and zinc.   

Foods containing more vitamin E  

Natural whole foods that contain more vitamin E include:

  • asparagus  
  • broccoli  
  • almonds
  • kale  
  • kiwifruit 
  • broccoli  
  • parsley
  • green peppers
  • shrimp
  • raspberries 
  • olive oil
  • turmeric 
  • avocado
  • peanuts 
  • blueberries
  • cinnamon 
  • lime juice
  • brazil nuts
  • sweet potato  
  • lettuce

Processing losses 

Vitamin E is unstable in the presence of light, heat and alkaline environments.  Up to 80% of Vitamin E is lost in the milling of flour.  

Nutrient profile 

The nutrient fingerprint chart below shows that vitamin E is easy to find in a nutrient-dense diet and is unlikely to be a nutrient we need to actively seek out.

Marty Kendall
 

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