Vitamin C gets a lot of cred. But vitamin E is also an awesome antioxidant that can add beaucoup benefits to your diet.
Vitamin E 101
So, what is vitamin E?
Well, it’s is an essential nutrient that can help:
- protect cells from free radicals
- strengthen your immune system
- keep your skin and eyes on fleek 👀
The top natural sources of vitamin E are:
- some nuts
- wheat germ
- sunflower seeds
Vitamin E is fat soluble. So your body can store this vitamin until it needs it. Some foods provide vitamin E, but some folks might need supplements if they have a deficiency.
We explain the benefits, nutrition, and drawbacks of vitamin E.
Vitamin E provides a bunch of benefits (but some have more research backing them than others).
Possible skin benefits
Lots of skin products contain vitamin E (and with good reason!). Here’s a breakdown of the possible benefits.
- Hyperpigmentation. A 2016 study found that Vitamin E (without other added ingredients that may help) minimally effective in reducing those pesky dark patches on your skin. There’s not a lot of evidence supporting this, though there are anecdotal reports.
- Wrinkles. The findings of a 2013 lit review suggest that vitamin E — and other antioxidant-rich ingredients — may help delay the onset of those pesky wrinkles.
Some peeps claim vitamin E can treat acne scars. But there isn’t much research to back this up.
Vitamin E consists of eight compounds (four tocopherols and four tocotrienols).
Alpha-tocopherol is the one your bod uses the most. A 2005 review of studies shows it’s up there with the most potent fat-soluble antioxidants in nature.
Woot! These antioxidants may help protect your cells from free radicals (but this review of studies is from quite some time ago and found mixed results).
The antioxidant compounds in vitamin E may help give your immune system a boost.
It may also help your cells fight off free radicals that have possible links to cancer and premature aging.
Protection from environmental factors
Vitamin E may help protect your lungs from air pollution. A 2014 study linked alpha-tocopherol to improved lung function in adults.
More good news: A combo of vitamins E and C might help protect you from the sun’s UVB rays. ☀️
Other possible benefits
Vitamin E might also reduce your risk of some types of cancer. More research is needed and in fact, some trials suggest that vitamin E supplements may increase risk of certain types like prostate cancer.
A 2002 study found that long-term vitamin E intake could reduce death from bladder cancer. But according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), more research is a must to accurately link vitamin E to cancer prevention.
Additionally, vitamin E can be beneficial to heart health. Studies show it could protect heart arteries (hearteries?) from clots.
Plenty of nom-noms have hefty vitamin E content.
Main food sources
We whipped up a table of the best foods for vitamin E content.
|Food||Portion size||Vitamin E content (milligrams)|
|wheat germ oil||1 tablespoon (tbsp)||20.3|
|dry roasted sunflower seeds||1 ounce (oz)||7.4|
|dry roasted almonds||1 oz||6.8|
|sunflower oil||1 tbsp||5.6|
|safflower oil||1 tbsp||4.6|
|dry roasted hazelnuts||1 oz||4.3|
|peanut butter||2 tbsp||2.9|
|dry roasted peanuts||1 oz||2.2|
|corn oil||1 tbsp||1.9|
|boiled spinach||1/2 cup||1.9|
|chopped, boiled broccoli||1/2 cup||1.2|
Snack attack ideas
Don’t be afraid to get creative with your vitamin E. Plenty of nuts and nutritious oils help you prop up your vitamin E levels.
Here are some tips for deliciousness — with a capital E.
- A single serving of sunflower seeds provides over 20 milligrams of vitamin E — more than the Daily Recommended Intake (RDI). Sprinkle some on your salads for a salty, crunchy boost.
- Nosh on nuts when you need a quick snack. Almonds, peanuts, or hazelnuts are all good choices.
- Add a tablespoon of wheat germ oil to your homemade soups and breads.
- Start the day by making a kiwi-mango smoothie with almond milk. It’ll help you hit your RDI before lunchtime.
Vitamin E intake is all about balance. Here’s how to keep your levels in check.
This is how much vitamin E the NIH recommends you get on the daily:
|0–6 months||4 mg|
|7–12 months||5 mg|
|1–3 years||6 mg|
|4–8 years||7 mg|
|9–13 years||11 mg|
|14–17 years||15 mg|
|pregnant peeps||15 mg|
|breast-feeding folks||19 mg|
Vitamin E deficiency
Unless your diet is very low in fat, you’re prob getting enough vitamin E through food. An underlying health condition is more likely to cause vitamin E deficiency by preventing your body from absorbing fats.
This could include:
- cystic fibrosis
- Crohn’s disease
- chronic pancreatitis
- short bowel syndrome
- primary biliary cirrhosis
PSA: Chronic air pollution, smoking, or prolonged sun exposure can deplete your body’s vitamin E stores. This could also lead to a deficiency.
Symptoms of vitamin E deficiency
Not getting enough vitamin E can lead to:
- eyesight issues
- reduced coordination
- nerve issues, such as peripheral neuropathy
- muscle pain or weakness
- reduced immune responses
While vitamin E has lots of benefits, too much can lead to health issues.
Can you OD on vitamin E?
Overdosing on food-sourced vitamin E is uber rare. But it’s possible to overdo it with supplements. Don’t take more than 1,000 milligrams per day.
Side effects and symptoms
In rare cases, vitamin E can cause:
- rashes (for folks with a vitamin E allergy)
- blurry vision
- concentrated pee (aka creatinuria)
Taking too much vitamin E can also interfere with how your blood clots. Higher doses can put you at risk for more serious side effects such as hemorrhagic strokes.
It’s possible to concentrate vitamin E into a topical oil. Some peeps claim it alleviates flaking, itching, and dryness. But there’s not a lot of research suggesting that vitamin E oil provides more benefits than oral supplements.
However, vitamin E oil can be a good natural preservative in products like lip balms.
While more research is necessary, there are some studies that show promising results. A 2016 study found that topical vitamin E reduced psoriasis symptoms. It might also reduce your risk of scarring, since it’s a great moisturizer.
What about pills?
Vitamin E oil is also available in capsule form. There’s little research to prove these pills are better for you than traditional supplements.
Is it safe?
The biggest risk of vitamin E oil is an allergic reaction. It can irritate the skin and cause inflammation or a rash. Def do a patch test before you put it all over.
When shopping for vitamin E products, it’s important to choose high-quality supplements that are third party tested for purity.
Although supplements are monitored by the FDA, they’re not as strictly regulated as pharmaceuticals, meaning that supplements aren’t always safe and effective. So it’s essential to consult your doctor before starting a new supplement and always to choose trusted brands.
Eat it up
The best way to get vitamin D is through your diet. You shouldn’t take a supplement unless your doc suggests one.
Vitamin E’s antioxidant properties make it an essential part of a healthy lifestyle. It protects your cells from free radicals and can kick your immune system up a notch.
Just be sure to keep your intake in a healthy range and talk to your doctor before taking a supplement. It’s best to get most of your vitamin E through the diet.