Vitamins, Minerals and Dietary Supplements
What is vitamin E?
Also known as tocopherol or alpha-tocopherol, vitamin E is a fat-soluble
vitamin stored in the liver. It is one of three vitamins which also act
Why do we need it?
In its role as an antioxidant, vitamin E helps neutralize unstable particles
called free radicals which damage cell membranes. It also inhibits the
oxidation of LDL cholesterol ("bad" cholesterol), which may
reduce the risk of arterial plaque buildup, stroke and heart attacks.
In addition, vitamin E plays an important function in the formation of
red blood cells and the use of vitamin K. Some studies have shown that
vitamin E may raise one's resistance to infectious diseases and protect
How much vitamin E should I take?
According to the National Academy of Sciences, the recommended daily
allowance for vitamin E (alpho-tocopherol) is as follows:
- Adult men: 10 milligrams/day
- Adult women: 8 milligrams/day
- Children aged 7-10: 7 milligrams/day
- Infants: 4 milligrams/day
- Pregnant/lactating women: 12 milligrams/day
In addition to the NAS guidelines, some groups recommend much higher
doses (between 70-130 milligrams/day).
What are some good sources of vitamin E?
Vitamin E is found in vegetable oils (most notably wheat germ oil), sweet
potatoes, avocados, nuts, sunflower seeds and soybeans. Smaller amounts
are found in egg yolks and green leafy vegetables.
What can happen if I don't get enough vitamin
Deficiencies of vitamin E have been linked to heart disease. People with
extremely low blood levels of vitamin E may be also be at higher risk
What can happen if I take too much?
Some people taking massive amounts of vitamin E have reported experiencing
fatigue, nausea and diarrhea. Too much vitamin E may also cause bleeding
problems, particularly in people taking anti-clotting medications.
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