The Dish on Vitamin E
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin that acts as an antioxidant in the body to help prevent damage caused by free radicals. Vitamin E is especially important for protecting oxidative damage to lipids (a form of fat) and is sometimes added to foods with polyunsaturated fats help extend the time before they become rancid. By reducing oxidative stress to proteins, lipids, and DNA, adequate vitamin E consumption has been shown to reduce risk for cardiovascular disease, certain cancers, and impaired cognitive function, and help to strengthen the immune system.
How much is adequate?
The RDA for vitamin E is 15mg/day for men and women. Vitamin E is usually found in foods that contain lipids such as plant oils, seeds, and nuts. Avocados, wheat germ, and peanut butter are also good sources. Getting enough vitamin E through the diet is not difficult but most consumers in the U.S. only reach about 2/3 of the RDA. If, for example, you ate a salad with 2 tbsp of Italian dressing (10%) (most salad dressings are good sources of vitamin E) and 1/2 cup avocado slices (15%), had 1/4 cup of sunflower seeds (40%) as a snack, and 1/2 cup asparagus (5%) cooked using 2 tbsp of canola oil (30% ) you would reach 100% of your Recommended Dietary Allowance.
Should I take a supplement?
Unless your dietitian or doctor tells you to take a vitamin E supplement, supplementation is not advised. It is best to try to get adequate amounts of vitamin E by eating vitamin E rich foods. Too much vitamin E (which can happen if you take a supplement but does not happen from food sources) can result in toxic effects. Excess vitamin E may interfere with vitamin K metabolism and which can impair the body’s ability to form clots and may result in excessive bleeding. The UL for vitamin E is 1,000 mg/day. This is not the recommended amount but simply the maximum level considered safe.