- Vitamin E comes in eight forms – Tocopherols (α-, β-, γ-, and δ) and Tocotrienols (α-, β-, γ-, and δ)
- α-tocopherol is the most metabolically active of the vitamin E isoforms
- Supplements – d-alpha is natural form; dl-alpha is synthetic form
- It is estimated that 90% of adult Americans do not meet the estimated average requirement for α-tocopherol (vitamin E), although severe deficiencies are rare
- 15 mg/day (22.4 IU/day) is what is recommended as a daily requirement for adults
- 1,000 mg/day is the tolerable upper intake level set for all forms of vitamin E – doses above this may interfere with normal blood clotting (which can be dangerous)
- There is not strong evidence of a benefit of taking vitamin E supplements above 1,000 mg/day
- Food Sources – Leafy green vegetables, sunflower seeds, olive oil, eggs, wheat germ, avocados, and more!
- Vitamin E – $0.18/day
- – sourced from sunflower, not GMO soy – contains no common allergens – If you smoke, exercise a lot, or don’t eat foods high in vitamin E, a supplement will likely provide benefit
The Vitamin E tribe includes eight fat-soluble vitamin isoforms – tocopherols (α-, β-, γ-, and δ) and tocotrienols (α-, β-, γ-, and δ). α-tocopherol is the most active of the vitamin E isoforms.
About 80% of the tocopherols in foods are absorbed; tocotrienols are not absorbed as readily (<50%).
Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant and protects cell membranes and low-density lipoproteins (LDL) from being damaged. Oxidized (damaged) LDL is associated with heart disease.
Decreased vitamin E status is associated with things that increase oxidative stress, such as tobacco use and exercise. It is therefore prudent to increase vitamin E consumption in these instances. Low levels of vitamin C, malabsorption disorders, and genetic abnormalities affecting vitamin E transport can lead to vitamin E deficiency. It is estimated that 90% of adult Americans do not meet the estimated average requirement for α-tocopherol. Severe vitamin E deficiency can cause ataxia (lack of coordination), peripheral neuropathy (numbness, pain, and muscle weakness in extremities), muscle weakness, hyporeflexia (below normal or absent reflexes), damage to the retina, cardiac arrhythmia, and dementia.α-tocopherol supplementation has been shown to reverse some vitamin E deficiency symptoms.
Toxicity is rarely seen – symptoms include diarrhea, fatigue, double vision, and muscle weakness. Less than 2,000 mg per day of vitamin E supplementation typically does not produce side effects although 15 mg/day (22.4 IU/day) is what is recommended as a daily requirement for adults.1,000 mg/day is the tolerable upper intake level set for all forms of vitamin E – this is based on the finding that doses above 1,000 mg/day may interfere with the vitamin K-dependent blood clotting cascade and increase bleeding risk, especially in those taking anticoagulant drugs.
RRR-α-tocopherol is the only naturally occurring form of vitamin E and is listed as d-alpha-tocopherol on supplements. Synthetic forms are listed as dl-alpha-tocopherol.
Food sources of vitamin E as alpha-tocopherol include:
- Wheat germ oil, 1 tablespoon – 100% Daily Value (DV)
- Sunflower seeds, dry roasted, 1 ounce – 37% DV
- Almonds, dry roasted, 1 ounce – 34% DV
- Peanut butter, 2 tablespoons – 15% DV
- Spinach, boiled, ½ cup – 10% DV
- Broccoli, chopped, boiled, ½ cup – 6% DV
- Egg, whole, cooked, hard-boiled – 7% DV
- Olive Oil, 1 Tbsp – 13% DV
- Avocado, California, 1 – 13% DV
- Avocado, Florida, 1 – 40% DV
Because most people are deficient and the doses contained in supplements have not been shown to cause adverse effects, supplementing appears to be prudent. Of course, if you eat the right foods, it’s not too hard to get the vitamin E you need from there. If you exercise a lot, smoke, or just don’t eat healthily, a supplement definitely can’t hurt. Well, if it’s full of GMO soybeans or allergens, it may hurt. This
- Vitamin E – $0.18/day
is derived from sunflower rather than soy, is vegan friendly, and contains no common allergenic compounds.