Vitamins, Minerals and Dietary Supplements

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Vitamin E

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 as antioxidants.

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 against cataracts.

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:

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 E?

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 for cancer.

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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