Vitamin E, along with A, D and K, is a fat soluble vitamin that is metabolized and stored by the fat in your body. It acts as an antioxidant in your body and helps to ward off chronic diseases. You can get adequate amounts of vitamin E from your diet, but you may need to get additional amounts from a supplement. Talk to your physician before consuming any dietary supplements.
Your immune system benefits from vitamin E, since it helps to fight off viruses, bacterias and free radicals. Vitamin E acts as a powerful antioxidant that protects cells from the damage of free radicals. You are exposed to free radicals in cigarette smoke, air pollution and ultraviolet rays. They are also formed as a bi-product from the food you eat. Having a high amount of antioxidants in your diet, like vitamin E, may help to reduce your risk of getting certain types of cancer. Vitamin E also works to widen your blood vessels and keep blood from clotting within them, reports the Office of Dietary Supplements.
While there are eight varieties of vitamin E, alpha-tocopherol is the only type that meets the requirements of humans, reports the Office of Dietary Supplements. Natural forms of vitamin E are labeled as "d," such as d-alpha-tocopherol, while synthetic forms are labeled as "dl." Vitamin E occurs naturally in some foods, but can be added to other foods in either of these forms. If you take a vitamin E supplement, look for the alpha-tocopherol form for maximum benefits. You need 15 mg of vitamin E each day, which does not change if you are pregnant. This amount increases to 19 mg if you are breastfeeding.
Deficiency and Toxicity
Having a vitamin E deficiency is very rare, but it may occur if you have diminished fat absorption from Crohn's disease or intestinal surgery, reports MayoClinic.com. A vitamin E deficiency may also occur if you follow a very low-fat diet or suffer from malnutrition. Signs of a deficiency include anemia and neurological issues. You can overdose and have toxic levels of vitamin E, since it is stored in your fat. Do not take more than 1,000 mg of vitamin E. Consuming high amounts of vitamin E can increase your risk of death, reports the University of Maryland Medical Center.
You can get all of the vitamin E you need by eating certain foods. Wheat germ oil is naturally high in vitamin E; just 1 tbsp. provides 20.3 mg. A 1 oz. serving of almonds has 7.4 mg, 1 oz. of sunflower seeds contains 6 mg, 2 tbsps. of peanut butter has 2.9 mg and 1/2 cup of cooked spinach contains 1.9 mg. Broccoli, kiwi, raw spinach, mangoes and tomatoes each provide around 1 mg of vitamin E per serving.