Vitamin E, also known as alpha-tocopherol, is a fat-soluble vitamin that acts as an antioxidant cleaning up free radicals. It is also involved in red blood cell formation and has been shown to help prevent heart disease and some forms of cancer. The recommended daily allowance for vitamin E in adults is 30 international units or 15mg as alpha tocopherol. Levels higher than 1000mg have been associated with hemorrhage and reduced blood clotting so mega-dosing is not advised. Adequate intake of vitamin E can be accomplished through food sources and according to the Center for Nutrition and Food Safety in the U.K. as reported in October 2004, vitamin E is better absorbed in conjunction with higher fat meals than low or no fat.
Many oils are a rich source of vitamin E. Wheat germ oil is an excellent source supplying 20mg in a tablespoon which is more than 100 percent recommended daily allowance. Sunflower, safflower, grape seed and almond oil supply respectable amounts at 5mg per tablespoon. Use these oils in cooking to enhance your vitamin E intake. Corn, peanut and olive oils contain a much smaller amount averaging around 1mg per tablespoon. Salad dressing and margarine can therefore be considered a source for the vitamin.
Nuts and Seeds
Most seeds and nuts contain some vitamin E. One ounce of sunflower seeds has six milligrams which is equivalent to about 30 percent recommended daily requirements. Almonds and hazelnuts are rich in vitamin E with 7.4 and 4.3mg respectively per ounce. Peanut butter is also an adequate source of vitamin E, supplying 15 percent of the Recommended Daily Allowance. Pistachio, walnut, pecan and cashews are lowest averaging only 1 to 2mg per serving.
Whole grains can be a minor source for vitamin E. Grains are considered whole when they contain all three portions; the bran, endosperm and germ. Vitamin E resides in the germ. The germ is normally removed when grains are refined as in white wheat flour. To ensure you are getting the most vitamin E from your grains, look for 100 percent whole wheat, whole grain or vitamin E fortified products. Many breakfast cereals, oatmeal and nutrition bars are fortified with vitamin E.
Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables provide trace amounts of vitamin E. Kiwi, mango, tomatoes and spinach each provide almost 1mg per serving. Because it is concentrated, tomato sauce or tomato-based pasta sauce is a good source supplying 6mg per cup.
- Kansas State University: Cooperative Extension Service: Healthful Whole Grains!
- National Institutes of Health: Office of Dietary Supplements: Vitamin E
- Nutritiondata.com: Foods Highest in Vitamin E
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Encyclopedia: Vitamin E
- Pubmed: British Journal of Nutrition: The absorption of vitamin E is influenced by the amount of fat in a meal and the food matrix.