Vitamin E is vital to keeping healthy and preventing various diseases. It can be found in a wide variety of foods, and the best way to consume this vitamin is through a healthy diet. Deficiency is rare, and overdosing by using supplements is a danger.
Sources of Vitamin E
Vitamin E is a family of fat-soluble compounds. "It occurs naturally in eight different forms, including four tocopherols (alpha, beta, gamma and delta) and four tocotrienols. Alpha tocopherol is the most common and most potent form of the vitamin," Elizabeth Somer, registered dietitian and author of "The Essential Guide to Vitamins and Minerals," told Live Science.
Good dietary sources of vitamin E include nuts such as almonds, peanuts and hazelnuts, and vegetable oils such as sunflower, wheat germ, safflower, corn and soybean oils, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM). Sunflower seeds and green leafy vegetables such as spinach and broccoli also contain vitamin E.
There are many benefits to getting plenty of vitamin E. It functions mainly as a fat-soluble antioxidant. "It protects cells from damage, and it might aid in lowering a variety of health problems, from heart disease to cancer, and possibly even dementia," said Somer.
Vitamin E has many other functions. In addition to cell protection, vitamin E is vital to a functioning immune system. Vitamin E can also protect eye sight, long-term. A study by the Department of Epidemiology and Health Statistics of the Qingdao University Medical College found that vitamin E intake and high serum tocopherol levels were linked to a decreased risk of age-related cataracts.
"It also functions in the production of hormone-like substances, called prostaglandins that regulate a variety of body processes, including blood pressure, reproduction and muscle contraction. A recent study identified how vitamin E aids in repair of muscles," said Somer.
People with Crohn's disease, cystic fibrosis, or an inability to secrete bile from the liver into the digestive tract may need to take water-soluble forms of vitamin E, according to the National Institutes of Health, to avoid digestive problems.