April 4, 2016

Are You Getting These Nutrients? - Part 8

Up to 80% of people may not be eating the recommended intake of vitamin E. There are actually eight different forms, which is one of the reasons it's best to get vitamin E from foods, as supplements usually only contain one or two.

Low-carb sources include most nuts and seeds (sunflower seeds are especially rich in vitamin E), greens, avocado, peppers, and shrimp.

Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin found in many foods, fats, and oils. It is also an antioxidant, a substance that may help prevent damage to the body's cells. Antioxidants may provide protection against serious diseases including heart disease and cancer.

Vitamin E is also important in helping your body make red blood cells, and it helps the body to use vitamin K.

People who can't absorb fat properly may develop vitamin E deficiency. Symptoms of serious vitamin E deficiency include:
  • Muscle weakness
  • Loss of muscle mass
  • Abnormal eye movements
  • Vision problems
  • Unsteady walking

A deficiency that lasts a long time may also cause liver and kidney problems. Although most people in the United States aren’t seriously deficient in vitamin E, many people may have slightly low levels.

The richest source of vitamin E is wheat germ. Other foods that contain a significant amount of vitamin E include – liver, eggs, nuts - almonds, hazelnuts, and walnuts, sunflower seeds, mayonnaise, cold-pressed vegetable oils - including olive, corn, safflower, soybean, cottonseed, and canola, dark green leafy vegetables like spinach and kale, greens - beet, collard, mustard, turnip, sweet potatoes, avocado, asparagus, and yams.

There are natural and synthetic forms of vitamin E. Health care providers usually recommend natural vitamin E (d-alpha-tocopherol) or natural mixed tocopherols. Some prefer mixed tocopherols because it most closely represents whole foods. The synthetic form is called dl-alpha-tocopherol. Dosages are usually listed in international units (IU).

Most vitamin E supplements are fat-soluble. However, people who have trouble absorbing fat, such as those with pancreatic problems or cystic fibrosis, can take water-soluble E.

Vitamin E is available in softgels, tablets, capsules, and topical oils.

Doses for oral vitamin E generally range from 50 - 1,000 IU. Experts recommend getting vitamin E mostly from food rather than supplements.

The Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine has set an upper tolerable intake level (UL) for vitamin E at 1,000 mg (1,500 IU) per day for supplemental vitamin E.

Based on clinical trials, the dose often used for disease prevention and treatment for adults is 400 - 800 IU per day. As with all supplements, you should check with a doctor before giving vitamin E to a child.

Daily intakes of dietary vitamin E are listed below. (Note: 1 mg vitamin E equals 1.5 IU.)
  • Older than 18 years: 22.4 IU
  • Pregnant females: 22.4 IU
  • Breast-feeding females: 28.4 IU

Always check with your doctor before taking vitamin E supplements. Vitamin E may increase the risk of bleeding, especially if you are taking blood-thinners such as warfarin (Coumadin), aspirin, or clopidogrel (Plavix).

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