Vitamin E is a fat-soluble nutrient that is contained in many foods and is frequently taken as a supplement.  In the body it acts as an antioxidant.

ANTIOXIDANT

Oxygen is vital to the body’s health, but oxygen can also create problems for the body by removing one or more electrons from an atom or molecule.  This process happens when our bodies convert the food we eat into energy.  This creates free radicals, especially reactive particles, that can damage other cells, proteins and DNA by altering them. We are also exposed to free radicals from smoke, air pollution and sunlight.

Vitamin E is used by the body to counter the negative effects of the free radicals.

USES IN THE BODY

Vitamin E is used by the body:

•    In the immune system
•    To reduce blood clotting
•    In the formation of red blood cells
•    As an antioxidant

SYMPTOMS OF VITAMIN E DEFICIENCY

The symptoms most commonly associated with vitamin E deficiency are:

•    Crohn’s Disease
•    Cystic fibrosis

SOURCES OF VITAMIN E

The most common foods containing vitamin E are:

•    Wheat germ oil
•    Sunflower oil
•    Safflower oil
•    Corn oil
•    Soybean oil
•    Peanuts
•    Hazelnuts
•    Almonds
•    Sunflower seeds
•    Spinach
•    Broccoli
•    Supplements

VITAMIN E AND DISEASE

While there are studies being conducted on the effects of vitamin E on cancer and heart disease, dementia and other health problems, there does not appear to be any scientific study that establishes the benefits of vitamin E in treating these health problems.

RECOMMENDED DOSAGE

While doctors do not agree on the minimum amount of vitamin E that is required, most seem to agree that people should not take more than 1,500 international units.  The amount of vitamin E recommended will depend on whether a person is taking other drugs that might create unwanted problems and the person’s diet and lifestyle.