Vitamin E or Alpha-tocopherol

Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin which exists in different forms.
The most active form is the alpha-tocopherol but it needs the others forms in order to work properly.
It is found in all our tissues. However the pituitary gland and the suprarenal gland hold two hundred times more of it than all other organs.
Our cells' membranes are made of polyunsaturated fatty acids which can be oxidized.
Vitamin E is an antioxidant. It protects tissue against the damage of oxidation by neutralizing free radicals.
It works hand-to-hand with other antioxidant such as vitamins C and A and selenium. Excess or a deficiency of one may inhibit the benefits of other antioxidants.

By preventing free radicals to damage the fats in cell membranes vitamin E prevents cancer and slows the aging process.
It helps prevent cardiovascular disease by reducing the harmful effects of LDL Cholesterol and by preventing blood clots.
Vitamin E protects lungs from air pollution, eases menopause and boosts our immunity.
There is no real evidence for it but it is possible that it helps in the aid of internally (ex: ulcere) and externally wound healing (ex: acne).

Smoker needs larger amounts of vitamin E to counteract the stress put on their lungs.
Air pollution may increase our need for vitamin E.

Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA)
mg per day
Babies 0 to 1 years
Children 1 to 3 years
Children 4 to 6 years
Children 7 to 9 years
Children 10 to 12 years
Teenager 13 to 19 years
Pregnant women
Nursing mother

Since vitamin E is abundant in the food supply, a deficiency is really rare. However two categories of people are at risk. It concerns premature babies and people who do not absorb fats normally.

Good vegetarian sources
Vitamin E is found in vegetable oils especially sunflower oil and wheat germ oil. Olive, peanut, safflower, sesame, corn and soybeans oils are good too.
Cereals, nuts and seeds are an interesting source: almonds, Brazils nuts, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, walnuts...
Green vegetables also provide vitamin E but in smaller amount. Mangoes and sweet potatoes are rich in the vitamin.

Taking large doses of vitamin E does not seem to be harmful but it does not appear to have benefits either. It is never recommended to use too much of supplement. Large intake of this vitamin may cause gastrointestinal upsets and headaches.

Realized by Laurence LIVERNAIS-SAETTEL, Dietitian.
© Copyright L. Livernais-Saettel 2000
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