Vitamin EPage 1 of 1
Facts about Vitamin E:
is a fat-soluble vitamin and an antioxidant vitamin involved
in the metabolism of all cells. It protects vitamin A and essential
fatty acids from oxidation in the body cells and prevents breakdown
of body tissues.
Vitamin E is the term used for eight naturally occurring, fat-soluble
nutrients called tocopherols - alpha, beta, gamma, delta, epsilon,
zeta, eta and theta. Alpha-Tocopherol is essential, has the highest
biological activity, and predominates in many species. The RDA for
adults is 10 IU. (Designated according to its biological activity
in International Units (IU). With this vitamin 1 IU = 1 mg Alpha
In human beings, vitamin E is the
most important fat-soluble antioxidant. It prevents the potentially
harmful oxidation of fat compounds and enhances the functioning
of vitamin A. It is an antipollutant for the lungs. It helps the
healing of scar tissue when taken internally and also when applied
The best natural sources are wheat
germ, whole grains, vegetable oils, soya beans, nuts, apples, apricots
and green vegetables.
Vitamin E deficiency may cause anemia,
as a result of red blood cell destruction and neurological dysfunction,
myopathies, and diminished erythrocyte life span. New clinical evidence
from heavy drinkers suggests that alcohol may increase oxidation
of Alpha-Tocopherol. Increased demand has also been observed in
premature infants and patients with malabsorption.
It is generally non toxic but some
evidence suggests that large intakes may cause increased levels
of blood cholesterol and lipids. It can oxidize within a few months
of being manufactured, so supplements should not be stored for more
than a few months. It is destroyed by heat, freezing, food processing,
chlorine and iron.
Vitamin E supplements
are usually sold as alpha-tocopheryl acetate, a form that protects
its ability to function as an antioxidant. The synthetic form is
labeled "D, L" while the natural form is labeled "D".
The synthetic form is only half as active as the natural
(U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research
Service. 2004. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference,
Release 16-1. Nutrient Data Laboratory)
Antioxidants such as
vitamin E act to protect your cells against
the effects of free radicals, which are potentially damaging by-products
of energy metabolism. Free radicals can damage cells and may contribute
to the development of cardiovascular disease and cancer. Studies
are underway to determine whether vitamin E, through its ability
to limit production of free radicals, might help prevent or delay
the development of those chronic diseases. Vitamin E has also been
shown to play a role in immune function, in DNA repair, and other
(Source: Traber MG. Vitamin E. In: Shils ME, Olson JA, Shike M,
Ross AC, ed. Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease. 10th ed. Baltimore:
Williams & Wilkins, 1999:347-62. )
Food Sources of Vitamin E
|Egg, whole, fresh
|Corn oil (Mazola)
|| 1 tablespoon
||2.5 second spray
||6 fluid ounces
|Apple with skin
|Macaroni pasta, enriched
|Spaghetti pasta, enriched
|Peanut butter (Skippy)
|Pistachio nuts, dried
|Margarine (Parkay, diet)
|| 1 tablespoon
|Miracle Whip (Kraft)
|Tomato, red, raw
|Turnip greens, raw
||1/2 cup chopped
An Institute of Medicine (IOM)
report on vitamin E published in 2000 cautions that low
fat diets can result in a significant decrease in vitamin E intake.
(Source: Institute of Medicine, Food and Nutrition board. Dietary
Reference Intakes: Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Selenium, and Carotenoids.
National Academy Press, Washington, DC, 2000. )
Individuals who cannot absorb fat require a vitamin E supplement
because some dietary fat is needed for the absorption of vitamin
E from the gastrointestinal tract.
People who cannot absorb
fat often pass greasy stools or have chronic diarrhea.
People with an inability to secrete bile, a substance that helps
fat digestion, may need a special water-soluble form of vitamin
E. (Source: Farrell P and Roberts R. Vitamin E. In: Shils M, Olson
JA, and Shike M, ed. Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease. 8th
ed. Philadelphia, PA: Lea and Febiger, 1994:326-41.)
Vitamin E in the diet may help reduce the risk of some of the most
common diseases, such as heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease.
Normal cell function results in byproducts known as free radicals.
Free radicals can "attack" other cell substances, causing
damage to the cell wall, metabolic machinery, and genetic material
(DNA). Cells have natural defenses against this damage, including
the antioxidants vitamins C and E, but with age some of these defenses
decline. Brain cell damage caused by free radicals may play a role
in Alzheimer’s disease.
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