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Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin. This means it is stored in the liver and fatty tissues. There are eight forms. Alpha-tocopherol is the most active form in humans. It is an antioxidant. This means it acts to protect the body's cells against the effects of free radicals. These are normal by-products of metabolism, but they can cause cell damage.
The role of vitamin E is to:
- Act as an antioxidant in the body
- Help with immune system function
|Age Group||Recommended Dietary Allowance|
|1-3||6 milligrams (mg)||6 mg|
|4-8||7 mg||7 mg|
|9-13||11 mg||11 mg|
|14-18||15 mg||15 mg|
|19+||15 mg||15 mg|
|19+ lactation||19 mg||n/a|
Vitamin E Deficiency
This health problem is rare. In developed countries, it is seen only in people with certain health problems, such as liver disease or cystic fibrosis.
- Problems with the nervous system, such as poor balance and coordination
- Muscle weakness
- Thinning of the lining of the inner eye
People who do not get enough vitamin E often do not get enough vitamins A, D, and K.
Vitamin E Toxicity
Vitamin E does not leave the body in the urine like most water-soluble vitamins. It can build up in the body. The tolerable upper intake level (UL) for adults from dietary sources and supplements is 1,100 milligrams (mg) daily. The UL is lower for children.
Major Food Sources
Vitamin E content
|Wheat germ oil||1 tablespoon||20.3|
|Sunflower seeds, dry roasted||1 ounce||7.4|
|Sunflower oil||1 tablespoon||5.6|
|Hazelnuts, dry roasted||1 ounce||4.3|
|Safflower oil||1 tablespoon||4.6|
|Almonds, dry roasted||1 ounce||6.8|
|Peanut butter||2 tablespoons||2.9|
|Corn oil||1 tablespoon||1.9|
|Mango, raw||½ cup||0.7|
|Peanuts, dry roasted||1 ounce||2.2|
|Broccoli, boiled||½ cup||1.2|
People at Risk for Vitamin E Deficiency
People who may need a supplement because they lack vitamin E are:
- People who have problems absorbing dietary fat—Fat is needed to absorb vitamin E. This is because it is a fat-soluble vitamin. Some health problems that can cause fat malabsorption are Crohn disease, cystic fibrosis, celiac disease, pancreatic enzyme deficiency, and liver disease.
- People who have gastric bypass surgery.
- Infants with very low birth weight
Tips to Get More
To get more vitamin E:
- Sprinkle wheat germ on cereal or oatmeal.
- Add sunflower seeds or nuts to a salad or stir-fry.
- Add mango or blueberries to yogurt for an afternoon snack.
- Choose a multi-vitamin with vitamin E.
Eat Right—Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
United States Department of Agriculture
Dietitians of Canada
Dietary supplement fact sheet: vitamin E. Office of Dietary Supplements: National Institutes of Health website. Available at: http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminE-HealthProfessional. Accessed August 27, 2020.
Vitamin E. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/drug-monograph/vitamin-e. Accessed August 27, 2020.
- Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review BoardDianne Scheinberg Rishikof MS, RD, LDN
- Review Date: 03/2020
- Update Date: 08/27/2020