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Vitamin E

Vitamin E

Vitamin E plays many different roles in helping us stay healthy and is known for its powerful antioxidant properties.

Where do I find vitamin E?

  • The richest sources of vitamin E are found in wheat germ and in plant oils such as olive oil, corn and soya oil. Vitamin E is also found in nuts, seeds, avocados, eggs, asparagus, sweet potatoes, liver and dark leafy vegetables such as spinach.
  • Men need 4mg of vitamin E a day and women need 3mg.
  • Vitamin E is also available in supplements as tables, capsules and topical oils. These should be stored in cool, dark places as heat and light will reduce potency.

Why do I need vitamin E?

Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant which means it helps protect our cell membranes against damage from free radicals (free radicals are linked to diseases including cancer and heart disease).

We need vitamin E for skeletal, cardiac and muscle maintenance. Vitamin E also assists in red blood cell formation and enables the body to use vitamin K. It is though vitamin E may also boost the immune system.

Creams containing vitamin E can help speed up healing reducing the appearance of scars and blemishes.

How will I know if I am lacking in vitamin E?

A vitamin E deficiency is rare. Those at risk include people with rare disorders who can’t absorb fat properly and some premature or low birth weight babies. Symptoms include diarrhoea, loss of muscle mass, muscle weakness, vision problems, unsteadiness and eventually liver and kidney problems.

Can vitamin E ever be harmful?

Your body is able to store vitamin E for future use so you do not need it in your diet every day. There is currently insufficient evidence to know the long-term effects of taking high doses of vitamin E. According to the Department of Health 540mg or less a day of vitamin E supplements is unlikely to cause any harm.

In very high doses it is possible that vitamin E may interfere with the body’s ability to clot blood which could pose a problem to people already taking blood-thinning drugs such as warfarin or aspirin.