Vitamin E Foods: Benefits, Importance & Side Effects

Most of us do not realize the importance of vitamins until we suffer from a deficiency of one of them. Without vitamins and minerals, our bodies cannot absorb other nutrients from the food we eat. In addition, the lack of essential vitamins and minerals can prevent our bodies from functioning correctly. One such essential vitamin is vitamin E. It performs many vital roles in maintaining our health. For example, it helps keep healthy skin and eyes and strengthen the body’s natural defense against illness and infection (the immune system). This article discusses the various Vitamin E foods everything you want to know about vitamin E.

What is Vitamin E?

Vitamins are either fat-soluble or water-soluble. For example, vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin. Although it has several forms, the human body only requires one of its forms- alpha-tocopherol. The primary role is to act as an antioxidant to scavenge free radicals, which cause cell damage. In addition, it helps enhance immune function and prevents the formation of blood clots in the arteries.

You can get vitamin E from plant-based oils, nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables. Other than these natural sources, you can get vitamin E from supplements available on the market. Natural vitamin E has much better absorption in the body due to its molecular structure. Cells of our body require it to perform various essential functions. The body stores vitamin E in fatty tissues and the liver.

Vitamin E Rich Foods

Several foods are rich in vitamin E and can help us get the required quantities. However, plant-based oils are one of the best sources of vitamin E. Oils are often thought to be unhealthy but they can provide essential nutrients when consumed in small amounts. 

Given below are some vitamin E rich foods.

Wheat Germ Oil

As per studies, wheat germ oil is a valuable by-product from wheat grain, which is a good source of essential nutraceuticals such as α- and β-tocopherol (vitamin E). In addition, it is one of the richest natural sources of vitamin E. One tablespoon of wheat germ oil provides 20 mg of vitamin E, 135% of the daily recommended value.

Wheat germ is considered part of a wheat kernel, a major nutritional component of whole grain wheat. Therefore, you can substitute wheat germ oil with other oils that can be used for dressing and drizzling . Since cooking it with high heat can reduce its vitamin content, it can be used otherwise in salads and dips .

Wheat germ oil helps safeguard the fat-containing elements of our body, including cell membranes, brain cells and cholesterol. Furthermore, it also protects the body from harmful toxins like free radicals that cause severe chronic diseases like cancer. That is because vitamin E is an antioxidant that fights free radicals and helps prevent oxidative stress.

Almond

Almond serves as another great source of vitamin E food. Every serving or approx. 30g of almonds provides 8mg of vitamin E, nearly 55% of the RDI. In addition, almonds are also a rich source of protein, dietary fibre and essential minerals. So, it is beneficial for our overall health.

Safflower Oil

One tablespoon (13.6gm) of safflower oil contains 4.6mg of vitamin E, about 30% of RDI. In addition, it is a prominent ingredient in makeup and skincare products. That is because vitamin E has several skin benefits. Furthermore, it makes safflower oil an immunity booster. Therefore, it is suitable for kids to help fight bacteria and promote healthy body growth.

Peanuts and Peanut Butter

Peanuts are full of vitamin E. In addition, they are also protein-rich and have a reasonable amount of fibre. As a result, peanuts and peanut butter are beneficial for our health.

You can consume peanuts in various forms. For example, you can roast and eat them as a snack, add them to your curry preparations or use them in chutneys to reap all the benefits. 

They possess antioxidant properties that help fight several diseases as they are rich in vitamin E. They are also excellent for your skin as it nourishes the skin from within and prevents dryness. In addition, it also promotes heart health. 

As per USDA, 100 grams of peanuts provide 8.3mg of vitamin E, more than 60% of your RDI. Similarly, one tablespoon (16gm) of peanut butter offers 1.4mg of vitamin E.

Sunflower Seeds

Sunflower can be termed as a great source of vitamin E food. 100 grams of these seeds having 35.2mg. In addition, they also impart various health benefits. For example, they help boost energy, strengthen the immune system, improve heart health and reduce inflammation.

Vitamin E: Functions and Benefits

Vitamin E is beneficial for the body due to its antioxidant properties. It also helps improve the overall functioning of the body and helps fight oxidative stress and prevent several diseases like cancer. It also allows the body to use vitamin K more efficiently. Furthermore, research suggests that vitamin E also helps treat Platelet Hyperaggregation, a condition that can lead to a heart attack.

Let us grab our attention to some of the benefits of vitamin E.

Acts as an Antioxidant

Vitamin E serves as an antioxidant in the body, protecting our cells from the damage caused by free radicals, the compounds formed when our bodies convert food into energy. In addition, free radicals also result from exposure to air pollution, ultraviolet rays from the sun and cigarette smoke. They are highly unstable and reactive. As a result, they harm the cells, tissues and organs. The damage may lead to skin ageing and diseases like cancer, arthritis and cataracts. Vitamin E plays a crucial role in fighting these diseases and prevents injury.

Reduces the Risk of Heart Diseases

As per studies, vitamin E effectively helps manage and treat heart-related issues like high blood pressure, heart attack, chest pain and hardening of the arteries. In addition, its antioxidant properties reduce the risk of heart diseases by affecting low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL). LDL cholesterol damages arteries mainly after oxidation.

Stabilises Cell Membrane

All the body cells have a cell membrane, also called the plasma membrane. It separates the cell interiors from the outside environment. The cell membrane consists of a lipid (fat) bilayer that is semipermeable (only allows certain substances to pass through it).

A study showed that vitamin E is necessary for maintaining proper skeletal muscle homeostasis. In addition, supplementing the muscles with vitamin E promotes plasma membrane repair. Vitamin E helps maintain the stability of cell membranes. The cell membrane phospholipids are the main targets of oxidants, and vitamin E efficiently prevents lipid peroxidation. It increases the efficiency of the membrane lipid packaging, allowing a tighter packing of the membrane. It results in more excellent stability of the cell.

Improves Hair Health

Vitamin E helps promote hair health by adding shine to your hair and improving the blood circulation to your scalp. In addition, a study suggests that vitamin E supplements can prevent hair loss and enhance hair growth. Vitamin E, especially in its oil form, can help to replace that protective layer and bring back your hair’s lustrous texture.

Promotes Skin Health

Vitamin E acts as an anti-inflammatory agent in the skin. Several studies have supported its preventive effects in inflammatory damage after UV exposure to the skin. In addition, vitamin E can reduce UV-induced skin swelling, skin thickness and erythema. Its antioxidants also safeguard the skin from UV rays. Additionally, it retains the skin’s natural moisture, keeping the skin nourished and hydrated for long. 

You can apply vitamin E enriched formulas directly to the skin in the form of creams, gels and oils. It nourishes the skin and protects it from UV rays. Furthermore, you can take vitamin E supplements or increase intake in your diet to promote your skin health. 

Boosts Immunity

Regular consumption of Vitamin E food helps prevent infectious diseases, especially against microbes that require an immune response. For example, a study shows that it increases resistance to viral diseases in older adults, where higher plasma vitamin E levels are associated with fewer infections. In addition, it enhances your body’s immune functions by supporting the growth of T-cells. These T-cells fight infections by fighting against infected cells present in the body and activating other immune cells for an effective immune response. Also, vitamin E increases cell division in the body, resulting in new cells’ formation.

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for vitamin E for men and women aged 14 years and older is 15mg daily (or 22 international units, IU). It is the same for pregnant women. However, lactating mothers need 19 mg (28 IU) daily.

For children between the age of 0-13 years, the following is the required intake:

  • 1-3 years: 6 mg/day
  • 4-8 years: 7 mg/day
  • 9-13 years: 11 mg/day

If you’re not consuming this much amount of vitamin E in your diet every day, then you might suffer from its deficiency, leading to a lot of complications in your body. As per the National Institute of Health, vitamin E deficiency can cause nerve and muscle damage that results in loss of feeling in the arms and legs, loss of body movement control, muscle weakness and vision problems. It also weakens your immune system.

However, its mindless consumption can lead to the toxicity of vitamin E. Sometimes, unknowingly, people might be consuming excessive amounts of vitamin E in their diets. It also leads to complications in the body, hindering critical bodily functions. Therefore, it is advised to consume the recommended amount of all vitamins, for that matter.

Vitamin E Deficiency: Symptoms

Vitamin E deficiency is rare. However, it can occur due to a diet low in vitamin E, absorption disorder, genetic reasons, or diseases that make the body less capable of absorbing fat (as it is fat-soluble). In addition, conditions that hinder fat absorption in the body, like certain liver disorders, gall bladder disorders, pancreatitis, and cystic fibrosis, can also reduce its absorption. Therefore, it increases the risk of vitamin E deficiency.

Some symptoms of vitamin E deficiency are:

Muscle Weakness

Vitamin E is one of the body’s primary antioxidants. Its deficiency can result in oxidative stress, leading to muscle weakness. In addition, vitamin E promotes cell membrane health. Repaired and healthy cell membranes are essential for muscle structure and movement. Therefore, it can adversely affect the muscles when it is lacking in your diet. 

General symptoms include muscle weakness, numbness and tingling, difficulty walking and a general feeling of unwellness.

Weakened Immune System

Since vitamin E protects the body against infections, its deficiency can decrease the immune response to harmful bacteria and viruses. In addition, lack of vitamin E can inhibit the immune cells, especially T-cells, which are associated with cell-mediated immunity in the body. It results in a slower healing process too.

Vision Impairment

Vitamin E deficiency can weaken light receptors in the retina and other cells in the eye. It could lead to loss of vision or vision impairment over time. Additionally, vitamin E protects the eyes from problems arising out of growing old. It prevents molecular degeneration. Thus, vitamin E deficiency can lead to molecular degeneration, significantly harming eye health.

Coordination Impairment

Vitamin E deficiency can cause specific neurons to break down, harming their ability to transmit signals. Muscle weakness and difficulty in coordination are neurological symptoms that indicate damage to the central and peripheral nervous systems. The peripheral system is the network of nerves located beyond the brain and spinal cord. These neurons pass messages throughout the body. The central nervous system communicates between the brain and spinal cord.

The sheaths of neurons are primarily composed of fats. However, when the body has significantly less vitamin E, it lacks enough antioxidants to protect these fats. As a result, it leads to impairment of the functions of the nervous system. In addition, damage to nerve fibres prevents the nerves from transmitting signals correctly, causing a tingling sensation, also called peripheral neuropathy.

Decreased Fertility

Due to lack of vitamin E, reactive oxygen species increase sperm DNA damage. It also decreases sperm motility, lowering the efficiency of the egg-sperm union. Moreover, it causes harm to sperm cells and deteriorates their quality.

Potential Side Effects of Excess Vitamin E 

Anything in excess is not healthy. Similarly, excessive intake of vitamin E can also cause complications in the body. This condition is called vitamin E toxicity. It can result in blood thinning and stroke. So, if you are a heart patient, start consuming vitamin E supplements only after consulting your cardiologist. Furthermore, your doses should never cross 1000 mg daily.

Conclusion

The human body requires several essential minerals and vitamins to perform efficiently. However, you can get all these nutrients from a healthy and well-balanced diet. For example, one of the vital vitamins you need is vitamin E. This article mentions that you may get adequate quantities from foods rich in this vitamin. However, it is equally important to understand that you should consume it in moderation to maximise its benefits. So, be aware of the required intake of vitamin E, consult an expert nutritionist and make necessary changes in your diet for a healthy life.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

1. Is vitamin E good for the skin?

A. Yes, vitamin E acts as an anti-inflammatory agent for the skin. It prevents inflammatory damage on exposure to UV rays. Therefore, it protects and improves skin health. 

2. Is vitamin E good for hair?

A. Vitamin E adds shine to your hair and improves blood circulation to your scalp. If your hair loses its protective layer of fat, vitamin E, especially in its oil form, can help to replace that protective layer and bring back your hair’s lustrous texture. In addition, it reduces oxidative stress and preserves the protective lipid layer.

3. Which food is highest in vitamin E?

A. Several studies suggest that wheat germ oil is one of the richest sources of vitamin E. One tablespoon of wheat germ oil provides 20 mg of vitamin E, 135% of the daily recommended value. Depending on a person’s age and gender, we require a daily intake of 11 to 15mg. We can get that with just 10ml of wheat germ oil.

4. Which fruit is rich in vitamin E?

A. Many fruits are rich sources of vitamin E. These include mango, kiwi, avocado, and olives. For example, half avocado can provide up to 20% of your daily vitamin E requirement. However, the best sources of vitamin E are plant-based oils, nuts and seeds. 

5. Are eggs high in vitamin E?

A. Eggs have a beneficial nutritional composition. However, they are not very high in vitamin E. For example, one medium egg (44gm) contains only 0.4mg of vitamin E.   

6. Is fish oil rich in vitamin E?

A. No, fish oil is not rich in vitamin E. Instead, it contains omega-3 fatty acids, a type of unsaturated fat. However, fish oil is also healthy and imparts several health benefits like lowering blood pressure, triglycerides, and risk of heart diseases.  

7. Which dry fruit is rich in vitamin E?

A: Almonds are a rich source of vitamin E. They contain 25.6mg in a 100g serving. Other dry fruits like hazelnuts, pine nuts and sunflower seeds also contain trace amounts of vitamin E. 

8. Does milk have vitamin E?

A. Although milk is rich in several essential nutrients, it does not contain enough vitamin E. As per USDA, one hundred ml contains only 0.07mg of vitamin E. However, milk has reasonable amounts of other fat-soluble vitamins, including vitamins A, D, and K.

9. Is coconut oil rich in vitamin E?

A. Plant-based oils are a rich source of vitamin E. However, coconut oil has less vitamin E than other plant-based oils. One hundred grams contains only 0.03mg. However, it is a rich source of vitamin K and iron.

10. Do carrots have vitamin E?

A. Carrots contain trace amounts of vitamin E, with one hundred gram carrots offering only 0.6 mg. However, they are fibre-rich and have antioxidant properties. Thus, they impart several health benefits. 

11. What are the symptoms of low vitamin E?

A. The deficiency of vitamin E in your body leads to muscle weakness and difficulty in coordination and walking. It might also cause impaired vision or vision loss in severe cases. In addition, it leads to decreased fertility and a tingling sensation in the body.

12. How can I increase vitamin E?

A. You can increase vitamin E content in your body by eating vitamin E-rich foods. These are vegetable oils, including wheat germ and sunflower oil and nuts, including peanuts, almonds, and hazelnuts. You can also have green leafy vegetables, like spinach and beans, and fruits like avocado, mango, and kiwi.

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