Vitamin E is one of the most essential nutrients for our health. And although most of us know that vitamin E is good for us, we may not understand why or how to get enough of this powerhouse nutrient into our daily diet.
Quick facts about vitamin E
Vitamin E is composed of eight vitamers. These vitamers are grouped into two separate categories, alpa, beta, gamma, and delta tocopherols, and alpha, beta, delta and gamma tocotrienols. Although alpha tocopherol is the most commonly recognized compound and the main ingredient in most commercially manufactured vitamins, the less familiar tocopherols and tocotriennols provide health benefits as well.
The National Institutes of Health notes that the RDA (recommended daily allowance) of vitamin E for people over the age of 14 is equal to 22.5 IU or 15mg per day, and this includes pregnant women. However women who are breastfeeding are recommended to take 28.5 IU or 19mg of vitamin E each day during that time. Children between 9 and 13 years old should aim for 16.5 IU each day. Experts in nutritional medicine often recommended much higher amounts (therapeutic dosages) when treating certain health conditions or advocating prevention against disease.
This vitamin works within our bodies in extraordinary ways. Consider the following fast facts about vitamin E:
- Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant which protects against the damage to cells caused by free radicals.
- Vitamin E is fat soluble. It is most easily absorbed when taken with a meal that contains some fat content.
- Vitamin E is essential for the healthy functioning of muscles, the skeletal system and the cardiac system, as well as for skin vitality.
- We can get vitamin E from many vegetables (especially broccoli, pumpkin and squash) and fruits (avocados and berries in particular), leafy greens like spinach, nuts (almonds and hazelnuts), cereals, fish, eggs, tofu, and plant oils such as olive oil and wheat germ oil).
- Although It is rare for a people to develop a vitamin E deficiency, there are individuals with particular health problems who may be at risk. This includes people with fat metabolism disorders, infants born prematurely, and people with rare genetic abnormalities that affect the TTPA gene.
What does Vitamin E do for our health?
You may be surprised at the sheer number of potential benefits that this vitamin holds!
- Immune system health: Antioxidants are highly important to our immune system, and vitamin E plays a powerful role as a potent antioxidant.
- Skin health: Vitamin E is often used in skin care products because of its anti-oxidant effect.
- Eye health: Some research has shown that vitamin E can slow the rate vision loss in people who have macular degeneration, cataracts and degrading vision due to aging.
- Cancer prevention: Although no supplement can completely eliminate the chance of someone getting cancer, many people use vitamin E as a preventative measure for cancers such as mouth and lung cancers (particularly in people who smoke or used to smoke), pancreatic cancer, prostate cancer, and colorectal cancer.
- Reducing the effects of medical treatments and medications: people who receive radiation treatment or dialysis may use vitamin E to reduce the harsh side effects of these serious treatments.
Eat a well balanced diet
Eating a well balanced diet that consists of vitamin E rich vegetables, fruits, whole grains and plant oils will increase your odds of getting sufficient vitamin E through food. The foods outlined earlier in this article are a great place to start.
However, many people will benefit from taking a daily Vitamin E supplement. Our busy lifestyles leave us with little time to cook and put us at greater risk for a vitamin deficient diet. If you do decide to supplement your diet with vitamin E, it’s essential to buy the best vitamin supplement possible.
How do you know if you’re buying the best vitamin E supplement?
Not all vitamin brands are created equal. Although many people are unaware of the variances
in vitamin quality, there can be vast difference in the raw ingredients used and the manufacturing process itself. The quality of available supplements can range fro quite low at one end, to very high on the other (and this is often, although not always reflected in the price).
What factors can determine whether a vitamin is of high or mediocre quality?
The use of cheap fillers is a common issue in the vitamin supplement industry; scrutinize the ingredients of products and determine whether there are unnecessary fillers being used
Avoid products with artificial dyes, sugars and preservatives. Take note that the best quality vitamin supplements never contain artificial sweeteners, such as sucralose or saccharin. Avoiding potential allergen ingredients is important for most people, so check the label for common triggers like wheat, corn, starch, and yeast.
Vitamin E supplements in particular should be of a natural form, rather than a synthetic form. Synthetic vitamin E is is made from petrochemicals. Petrochemical are known to have toxic effects upon the body. Hint: shop for d-alpha-tocopherol vs. dl-alpha-tocopherol. You’ll find this information listed on the back label.
Look for a Vitamin E with mixed tocopherols so that you receive the entire family of tocopherols, including alpha, beta, delta and gamma.
Although there hasn’t been much scientific research done on the tocotrienol forms of vitamin E, there are indications that tocotrienols may work in concert with tocopherols to promote brain health. It is also possible that they help support normal cholesterol levels.That’s why my opinion, the best vitamin E supplement is one that includes all eight tocopherols and tocotrienols.
If you invest in a high quality vitamin supplement you can feel confident that you’ve got your vitamin E intake covered. Just remember, your vitamin E doesn’t give you a pass to skip your your daily servings of fresh fruits and vegetables!