Frank Salvatore
Health and Lifestyle

The Importance of Vitamin E

September 1, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Vitamin E is a fat-soluble antioxidant that fights free radicals. It also helps create red blood cells and helps the body use vitamin K, which is crucial for heart health. However, studies have shown that billions of people around the world have a deficiency in vitamin E, with most people only getting half of the needed amount.

Vitamin E deficiencies can increase the risk for diseases such as immune dysfunction, heart disease, and cognitive deterioration. However, the effects of vitamin E deficiency are often not able to be noticed until the long term impact has hit, which can range from Alzheimer’s to infertility.

How Much Vitamin E is Needed

Studies have shown that the protective level of vitamin E is 30 micromol per liter. This seems to be the level above which vitamin E positively affects the health. Studies have also shown that to achieve this level of vitamin E, you need to consume at least 50 IUs of vitamin E each day.

The main reason there is such a deficiency is because most people have a heavily processed diet, which lacks in vitamin E as well as other micronutrients. Because vitamin E is fat-soluble, if you’re on a low-fat diet, you may need to increase your healthy fat intake to be able to properly absorb vitamin E. Studies have shown that the body will absorb only 10% of vitamin E if it is taken without fat.

Vitamin E Deficiency

Serious vitamin E deficiency may result in:

  • Muscle weakness and unsteady gait
  • Vision problems
  • Dementia
  • Loss of muscle mass
  • Cardiac arrhythmia
  • Liver and kidney problems

While vitamin E is always important, deficiency is especially problematic during pregnancy. A deficiency may even result in miscarriage.

Around 13% of people around the world have vitamin E levels that fall under the functional deficiency threshold, and the majority of these are babies. Babies deficient in vitamin E have a higher risk for vision and immune problems.

Research also shows that low vitamin E levels are associated with a higher risk of heart disease and cancer. However, studies have shown that there is a difference between the benefits of natural vitamin E and synthetic. Synthetic vitamin E does not provide all of the health benefits of natural vitamin E, as it is derived from petrochemicals and has toxic effects.

Natural vs. Synthetic Vitamin E

Natural foods are the best source of vitamin E, because they include all eight of the vitamin E compounds, including Alpha, Beta, Delta, Gamma Tocopherols and Alpha, Beta, Delta Gamma Tocotrienols. Having a balance of all of these optimizes the antioxidant functions of vitamin E.

However, synthetic vitamin E supplements usually only include alpha-tocopherol. This is not nearly as complete as a source that includes all eight compounds. It is best to avoid vitamin E supplements and opt for foods containing vitamin E. If you do choose to take a supplement, make sure it is a high-quality supplement, rather than a synthetic one.

Vitamin E Rich Foods

Vitamin E can be found in many healthy foods. Foods that often contain vitamin E include:

  • Almonds
  • Broccoli
  • Mango
  • Leafy Greens
  • Avocado
  • Shrimp
  • Olives
  • Spinach
  • Wheat Germ Oil

Because cooking can diminish the levels of vitamin E, these foods should be eaten raw when possible.

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Frank Salvatore