Nutrient Information: Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol)

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Nutrient Key Information 
Nutrient Name: Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol)
Nutrient Category: Vitamins and Other Components
Measuring Unit: mg
Nutrient Summary: Vitamin E acts as an antioxidant, it helps to protect cells from the damage caused by free radicals. It boosts body's immune system to fight off invading bacteria and viruses.
Nutrient Function: Vitamin E's main action is to stop the chain reaction of free radicals from producing more free radicals in body cells. As a result, it has the following functions:

  • Immune function: protect from diseases in the immune system.
  • Improve blood vessels vasodilation and keep blood from clotting within them. It also prevents from hydrogen peroxide–induced hemolysis, and inhibit platelet aggregation.
  • May reduce the risk of heart disease by protecting low-density lipoproteins (LDL) against oxidation and reducing inflammation.
  • May slow down aging related eye macular degenerations, such as loss of central vision and cataracts, with the combination use of other antioxidants, zinc, and copper.
  • May help protect skins from environmental stressors with the similar function of protecting body against oxidative stress (antioxidant). Some studies indicate topical use of Vitamin E may help protect skin from damage caused by sunlight.

1) There are 8 naturally occurring forms of vitamin E. Only the alpha-tocopherol form of the vitamin E is maintained in the plasma and meet the body’s needs for the vitamin.
2) Alpha-tocopherol has forms 2R-stereoisomeric and 2S-stereoisomers. Only 2R-stereoisomeric form is maintained in the plasma and tissues, so it is used for the recommended daily intake value. Vitamin E supplement labeled as dl-alpha-tocopherol includes both forms of alpha-tocopherol vitamin E.
3) Prolonged and high-intensity physical activity can increase muscles oxygen consumption significantly, as a result, the production of free radicals in the body increases. So active people can be benefited to eat more Vitamin E and other antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables regularly.
4) Vitamin E is a fat-soluble nutrient, it is more easily absorbed in a meal that contains fat. Fat-soluble vitamins are held in fatty tissues and the liver, and released as needed.

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Food Sources

The primary food source of Vitamin E is from vegetable oils, such as corn oil, olive oil, canola oil, soybean oil, margarine spread.

Other food sources are:
• Nuts and seeds, such as almonds, peanuts and peanut butter, and sunflower seeds
• Fruits, such as avocados, kiwifruits, mangos
• Vegetables, such as red sweet pepper, spinach, swiss chard, broccoli
• Seafoods, such as salmon, trout, shrimp
• Fortified cereals and juices

1) Vitamin E can be destroyed by high heat and long cooking time.
2) Vitamin E is sunlight-sensitive, degrades by photo-oxidation.
3) Some nutrient facts databases and food nutrition labels don't distinguish different forms of vitamin E in the foods, they present data as "alpha-tocopherol equivalents". Currently there is lack of evidence for the bioavailability of the other forms of vitamin E than alpha-tocopherol.

Sample Foods High in: Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol)
View Additional Food Sources
Food Description Nutrient Amount1 Daily Value%2
Oil, corn
Category: Fats and Oils
22.6 mg 150.67%
Seeds, sunflower seed kernels from shell, dry roasted, with salt added
Category: Nut and Seed Products
26.1 mg 174.00%
Nuts, almonds, oil roasted, lightly salted
Category: Nut and Seed Products
25.97 mg 173.13%
Peanut butter with omega-3, creamy
Category: Legumes and Legume Products
10.34 mg 68.93%
Peppers, sweet, red, sauteed
Category: Vegetables and Vegetable Products
3.09 mg 20.60%
Spinach, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt
Category: Vegetables and Vegetable Products
2.08 mg 13.87%
Oil, wheat germ
Category: Fats and Oils
149.4 mg 996.00%
1 Nutrient amount is in 100 gram food
2 Use FDA 2000 calorie diet as Daily Value reference

Additional Nutrient Information
Nutrient Summary Vitamin E acts as an antioxidant, it helps to protect cells from the damage caused by free radicals. It boosts body's immune system to fight off invading bacteria and viruses.
Deficiency Health Effects Vitamin E deficiency is very rare in the United States and Canada. However, most people intake less than recommended daily amounts of vitamin E from diets.

Vitamin E deficiency only occurs for the individuals with genetic abnormalities of vitamin E metabolism, or fat digest or malabsorption problems. The primary symptom of vitamin E deficiency is peripheral neuropathy (neuromuscular dysfunction), which may lead to loss of feeling in the arms and legs, loss of body movement control, muscle weakness, and vision problems.

Another problem is the weakened immune system.
Effects if Above Upper Limit Currently, there is no evidence of adverse effects from the excess consumption of vitamin E naturally occurring in foods.

Though Vitamin E toxicity is rare, if it happens, the potential adverse effects of excessive vitamin E supplements intake are increasing the risk of bleeding, and causing hemorrhage. For the individuals who are deficient in vitamin K or on anticoagulant therapy, it may diminish blood coagulation.

The Upper Limit for vitamin E is based on the adverse effect of increased tendency to hemorrhage. The UL for adults is 1,000 mg/day from all forms of alpha-tocopherol.
External References Learn more at:
• The National Academies of Science, Engineering, Medicine publication: Dietary Reference Intakes
• NIH (National Institutes of Health) article: Vitamin E
• article: The Benefits of Vitamin E

Daily Value Age Group Recommended Daily Values Daily Value Upper Limits
Toddler 1 to 3 years old: 6 mg 200 mg
Child 4 to 8 years old: 7 mg 300 mg
Male 9 to 13 years old: 11 mg 600 mg
Male 14 to 18 years old: 15 mg 800 mg
Male 19 to 30 years old: 15 mg 1,000 mg
Male 31 to 50 years old: 15 mg 1,000 mg
Male 51 to 70 years old: 15 mg 1,000 mg
Male Senior 71 or older: 15 mg 1,000 mg
Female 9 to 13 years old: 11 mg 600 mg
Female 14 to 18 years old: 15 mg 800 mg
Female 19 to 30 years old: 15 mg 1,000 mg
Female 31 to 50 years old: 15 mg 1,000 mg
Female 51 to 70 years old: 15 mg 1,000 mg
Female Senior 71 or older: 15 mg 1,000 mg
Female Pregnancy (>18): 15 mg 1,000 mg
Female Lactation (>18): 19 mg 1,000 mg
FDA (Based on 2000 calorie daily diet): 15 mg

Dietary Reference Intakes The nutrient Dietary Reference Intakes and nutrition facts is from Institute of Medicine of National Academies 2006. Dietary Reference Intakes: The Essential Guide to Nutrient Requirements. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.
US FDA Nutrition Education Nutrition facts knowledge are based on U.S. FOOD & DRUG Administration Nutrition Education Resources & Materials.
National Institutes of Health Nutrition facts knowledge are based on National Institutes of Health Dietary Supplement Fact Sheets.
Disclaimer The nutrient information provided here should not take the place of medical advice. We encourage you to talk to your healthcare providers (such as your doctor) about your dietary requirements which are best for your overall health. We also recommend you to read organization or professional reference documents or articles mentioned, but not limited to, in this page. Any mentions and reference links in this page don't represent our endorsement of their services and advice.

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