How to Find Foods High in Vitamin E
Vitamin E in foods comes in many forms and types; there are 8 known types. The two main categories of vitamin E are tocopherols and tocotrienols. They both function to reduce damage from toxins in the body, including free radicals.
The tocotrienols are better at getting into the cell than tocopherols, and therefore may have stronger effects at reducing cancer risk than the tocopherol types of vitamin E. They also may help protect neurons from toxins, such as glutamate.
Animal studies show that tocotrienols may help protect from stroke-induced injuries, diabetes, osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease.
Tocotrienol food sources:
Tocotrienol-rich foods include the following amounts per 100 g (unless otherwise specified):
- Annatto seeds 140 mg
- Palm oil: 204 mg/L
- Rice bran 26 mg
- Paprika 4 mg
- Chili powder 3 mg
- Wasabi peas 3 mg
- Pistachios 3 mg
- Oat bran 2 mg
- Coconut oil 2 mg
Incorporating tocotrienol foods into your diet
- Annatto is a great way to make dishes colorful and add a bit of a peppery flavor. It is commonly added to flavor to rice and meats in Mexican cooking.
- When choosing palm oil, find certified sustainably harvested.
- Rice bran is a nutritious additive to any baked item or oatmeal.
- Paprika is a mild spice and is delicious on almost everything.
- Chili powder is great for making chilies, stews, soups, taco mixes, and chili sauces.
- Wasabi peas make a healthy snack alternative to many chips and crackers.
- Pistachios are easy to grab and eat anywhere as a snack.
- Oat bran is also a very nutritious additive for baked goods and also for yogurt.
- Coconut oil works great in making baked items and is versatile for all forms of cooking.
Tocopherol Food Sources:
Alpha tocopherol rich foods include the following amounts per 100 g:
- Wheat germ 149 mg
- Sunflower seeds 36 mg
- Almonds 26 mg
- Curry powder 25 mg
- Oregano, dried 18 mg
- Hazelnuts 16 mg
- Mixed nuts 14 mg
- Pine nuts 9 mg
- Brazil nuts 8 mg
- Peanuts 8 mg
Incorporating tocopherol foods into your diet
- Wheat germ is versatile in baking and for making smoothies. Avoid if you have gluten sensitivity or celiac disease.
- Sunflower seeds and almonds both make great snacks at the desk and at home. They are wonderful in baking.
- Curry powder can be added to sauces, stews, fish, rice, quinoa and so much more.
- Oregano is great in both Italian and Mexican cuisine. It also can be added to any soups, stews or to pan-roasted meals.
- Hazelnuts, mixed nuts, pine nuts, Brazil nuts and peanuts all can be used interchangeably in recipes and to add variety to your diet. Roast hazelnuts for a special treat.
What is Vitamin E?
Vitamin E is a nutrient that’s essential for protecting cells from damage. It works to protect from oxidative damage in the body or from free radicals by acting as an antioxidant.
Free radicals and oxidation comes from sources like:
- Air pollution
- Fried foods
- Chemical household cleaners
Vitamin E helps provide cardiovascular protection, may reduce cancer risks, improve brain health, skin health, liver health, and reproductive health.
Do We Need More Vitamin E?
Here is a little known fact: Vitamin E intake in the United States is WAY too low. In a recent, large health survey, it was determined that 87% of young adults, age 20-30 years old have low levels of vitamin E in the blood. Over 90% of the population doesn’t even get the estimated average requirement of vitamin E.
Translation: less than 1 in 10 people are meeting the mark for vitamin E. Why is this happening? I speculate that it is largely due to fast foods and highly-processed foods in our diets.
What happens when foods are highly processed or low nutrient quality? They can increase requirements of antioxidants like vitamin E in the body because of the oxidation and inflammation that they can cause.
Frying of foods can also break down vitamin E.
1 in 3 adults with diabetes or metabolic syndrome have vitamin E deficiency, and they probably don’t know about it.
Vitamin E supplements have also become less popular due to headlines disputing the benefits of supplements. This may be contributing to the common problem of inadequate vitamin E. Type of supplemental vitamin E is really important for best health.
How do you know if you need more vitamin E?
Symptoms of vitamin E deficiency can include, but aren’t limited to:
- Muscle weakness
- Muscle pain
- Mild anemia
- Nervous system damage
- Reproductive and infertility problems
- Age spots
- Decrease in sex drive
- Liver dysfunction
- Brain dysfunction
- Vision impairment
- Dry hair
- Digestive disorder
Severe deficiency often results in nerve damage and muscle pain.
How Did Vitamin E Get So Confusing?
Research using vitamin E supplements has been fraught with flaws, including using super-high doses of synthetic vitamin E.
Synthetic vitamin E doesn’t have the same health benefits that natural vitamin E does. It isn’t even chemically the same as natural vitamin E.
Supplementing the right kinds of vitamin E may be something to consider if you don’t eat the following foods regularly.
How Much Vitamin E Do I Need?
Although the RDI for vitamin E is 15 mg/day, no known optimal amount has been established. A rule of thumb; the more toxins you are exposed to, the more vitamin E you may need.
It is important to know that the RDI was set with only one type of vitamin E in mind. Our bodies use over 8 types of vitamin E for various functions.
Tocotrienols are a bit harder to find in the diet than tocopherols.
Interesting Facts about Vitamin E
- Vitamin E enhances vitamin A absorption
- They both work together to support adequate immune response.
- Vitamin C restores vitamin E in the body when it becomes oxidized.
- Selenium enhances the effects of vitamin E.
- Vitamin E enhances the effects of selenium
- A food that is a great source vitamin E and seleniuim are brazil nuts
Supplementing Vitamin E
Food sources are always the best way to get vitamin E, but sometimes supplements may be beneficial if you take certain medications that deplete vitamin E, such as antibiotics, certain cholesterol medications or laxatives.
Watch out for synthetic vitamin E.
- Synthetic alpha-tocopherol will be labeled as dl-alpha-tocopherol.
- Naturally-derived or non-synthetic will be labeled as d-alpha-tocopherol.
Try to find supplements that have both tocopherols and tocotrienols from natural sources.
Make sure you talk to your doctor about supplements you are taking.
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