Vitamin E is one of the 13 essential vitamins you need to survive. While it’s lesser known than other vitamins like C or D, it’s an important antioxidant that helps your body fight off free radicals that can cause cellular damage and premature cellular death. Needless to say, it’s an essential part of your everyday diet.
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin, which means it functions much differently than water-soluble vitamins like B or C. How are fat-soluble vitamins, like Vitamin E, different from water-soluble ones? Read on to learn everything you need to know.
What is a fat-soluble vitamin?
While most vitamins are water-soluble, meaning they dissolve in water, there are several essential fat-soluble vitamins, including A, D, E and K. The most abundant source of these vitamins is high-fat foods. In simplest terms, a fat-soluble vitamin is one that only dissolves in fats and oils. The body absorbs these vitamins alongside fats in our diets, and stores them in fatty tissues throughout the body, as well as in the liver.
Fat-soluble vs. water-soluble vitamins
The body absorbs both fat- and water-soluble vitamins during digestion, but the ways they’re stored and excreted differ significantly. Fat-soluble vitamins require fat, usually in the form of food in the stomach, for absorption. The body then stores these reserves in fatty tissue, where it’s released to protect against heightened levels of free radicals and the cellular stress they cause.
Water-soluble vitamins, including C, B6 and B12, don’t require any fat present for absorption—which means you can absorb them on an empty stomach. They dissolve in water, and tissues throughout the body absorb them easily and immediately, soaking up all their healthy benefits. Unlike fat-soluble vitamins, which the body stores a surplus of, we excrete excess water-soluble nutrients through urine.
Be conscious of recommended daily values
When it comes to vitamins in your body, you might think that more is better. Yet, that’s simply not the case for fat-soluble vitamins. Since these vitamins build up in the body, there’s always a risk for vitamin toxicity. If you stick to recommended daily values of Vitamin E—15mg per day for healthy adults—you’ll avoid the potential for toxicity and provide your body with sufficient levels of antioxidants.
How to boost absorption of fat-soluble vitamins
As detailed above, fat-soluble vitamins need to have a fat source present in the body for proper absorption. The best way to make sure our bodies absorb vitamins like A, D, E and K appropriately is by taking them with a meal. This boosts their bioavailability, which makes it easier to process them.
Get your daily dose of Vitamin E
Looking to boost your consumption of Vitamin E? There are plenty of whole foods that are rich in this essential nutrient, but you’ll likely have to boost your consumption of fats to incorporate more Vitamin E into your diet. Rich sources of this nutrient include:
- Pressed oils. Sunflower, safflower, hazelnut, almond and wheat germ oil all contain high amounts of Vitamin E. Just one serving of these oils contains nearly half of your recommended daily intake of the nutrient, while one serving of wheat germ oil can supply more than 100% of that figure.
- Almonds, hazelnuts and peanuts contain moderate amounts of Vitamin E. If you’re looking for a healthy snack that also boosts your Vitamin E consumption, eat one serving of these nuts on a daily basis.
- Leafy greens. Looking for a low-calorie way to increase your Vitamin E intake? Eat more leafy greens like turnip greens, beet greens and Swiss chard—they all contain moderate amounts of this free radical-fighting nutrient.
- Mango and avocado are particularly rich sources of Vitamin E. You’ll also get a vitamin C boost that can enhance the antioxidant benefits of Vitamin E even further.
Why supplement Vitamin E?
Unfortunately, most adults don’t receive their recommended daily intake of Vitamin E—around 15 mg per day—from dietary sources alone. The easiest way to boost your Vitamin E intake in terms of your diet is by consuming Vitamin E-rich pressed oils; however, this also increases your daily fat intake considerably.
It’s often easier and more effective to supplement with Vitamin E. If you’re interested in boosting your daily Vitamin E intake, talk to your doctor to determine whether supplementing is right for you. If you’re granted approval, do your research and select a high-quality, all-natural Vitamin E supplement that supplies your body with abundant benefits. After all, your body needs them!