Vitamin E is one of the 13 essential vitamins your body needs for survival. It’s a potent antioxidant that plays many roles in supporting essential bodily processes. As a free radical scavenger, Vitamin E prevents cellular damage and premature cell death from contributing to serious diseases like cancer and diabetes. It also keeps your immune system strong, fighting off bacteria and viruses, to help you feel your best.
So, how much Vitamin E should you get each day? And how should you get it? Read on to learn more about this important antioxidant and how dietary changes and supplements can address potential deficiencies.
What do the National Institutes of Health recommend?
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the average adult needs to consume 15mg of Vitamin E per day. They also recommend you receive the majority of your vitamin E intake from dietary sources, although this is not always possible or practical. The NIH acknowledges that many dietary sources of Vitamin E are high in fat, which isn’t always conducive to an individual’s health. Above all, the NIH recommends getting 15mg daily, no matter where it’s from.
Most people don’t get enough Vitamin E
While vitamin E is one of the essential vitamins your body needs to support basic processes, most people don’t consume enough Vitamin E in their daily life. It can be challenging to hit the 15mg-per-day figure from dietary sources alone. While true deficiency is rare and associated with other chronic health conditions, failing to reach your daily recommended intake of Vitamin E can cause symptoms like the following:
- Muscle weakness
- Numbness and tingling
- Immune system deficiency
- Vision problems
Clinical deficiency of Vitamin E is rare
Clinical Vitamin E deficiency is very rare, and it’s often linked to serious health conditions and diseases. Deficiency is typically hereditary, so if you’re deficient, someone in your family likely is, too. Some of the most common medical conditions that are directly related to Vitamin E deficiency include:
- Crohn’s Disease
- Cystic Fibrosis
- Ataxia with Vitamin E Deficiency (AVED)
What ties many of these medical conditions together is a problem with fat absorption. Since Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin, the body needs to be able to absorb fat correctly and consistently to maintain a steady source of the nutrient.
Treatment of true Vitamin E deficiency typically includes making dietary adjustments, but it’s becoming much more common for doctors to recommend a supplement. If you’re concerned about your Vitamin E intake or you’re wondering how a preexisting condition is affecting your levels of this nutrient, your doctor can measure your tocopherol levels and determine the proper approach.
How to increase your daily Vitamin E intake
There are two ways you can boost your daily Vitamin E intake—making dietary changes or taking supplements. Most doctors recommend starting with dietary adjustments that focus on the consumption of Vitamin E-rich foods, but it’s challenging to eat enough of these foods on a daily basis and it’s often easier to take a supplement instead. Learn more about these two effective strategies:
- Dietary consumption. There are many healthy Vitamin E-rich whole foods, including pressed oils (sunflower, safflower, hazelnut and almond), nuts (almonds, roasted peanuts), avocado and many more. Since the richest sources of Vitamin E are often high in fat due to the fat-soluble nature of the nutrient, incorporating more of these foods into your diet typically increases your daily intake of fat. For those following fat-conscious diets, it’s often better to supplement.
- Supplementation. Vitamin E supplements offer a convenient, effective way to increase your daily intake of this essential nutrient. There are natural and synthetic forms of Vitamin E, but it’s always wise to choose an all-natural product. Your body absorbs them much easier and much more effectively compared to synthetic products, boosting bioavailability and providing your body with the most benefits. Many all-natural supplements feature alpha-tocopherol, the most biologically active form of Vitamin E. It’s molecular structure is easiest for the body to absorb which makes these supplements highly effective.
However you get your daily dose of Vitamin E, what matters is that you’re getting a healthy dose of tocopherols and tocotrienols: the two families that collectively make up Vitamin E.
Keep your antioxidant levels stable
Antioxidants are essential for your everyday health. They fight free radicals that can compromise your immune system and can even be a precursor to serious diseases like diabetes and cancer. If you’re concerned about your daily Vitamin E intake, don’t hesitate to speak with a physician. Only a doctor can determine whether your Vitamin E levels are stable or whether dietary changes or supplementation can make a positive difference for your health.