Vitamin E is a powerful, fat-soluble antioxidant that helps protect cell membranes against damage caused by free radicals and prevents the oxidation of LDL cholesterol. The term vitamin E encompasses a group of eight compounds, called tocopherols and tocotrienols, with various subsets of each, that comprise the vitamin complex as it is found in nature.
Vitamin E is necessary for structural and functional maintenance of skeletal, cardiac, and smooth muscle. It also assists in the formation of red blood cells and helps to maintain stores of vitamins A and K, iron, and selenium. It may have a positive effect on immune health, protect against the oxidative damage that can lead to heart disease, have preventive effects against cancer, help relieve symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, and may help prevent some diabetes-related damage, particularly to the eyes.
Good vitamin E food sources include vegetable oils, avocados, spinach, sunflower seeds, wheat germ, nuts, and whole grains. Except
for an anticoagulant effect, vitamin E has no known toxicity or side effects.
Other special considerations for Vitamin E:
- Because vitamin E is fatsoluble, it’s best absorbed when taken with a meal containing some fat.
- Vitamin E loses its potency when exposed to air, heat, and light, so supplements should be stored in a dark, cool place.
- People who are taking anticoagulants (blood thinners or aspirin) should take vitamin E supplements only under physician supervision.
- If you are taking statins, do not exceed 400 IU of vitamin E because it can dramatically reduce the benefits of some cholesterol drugs.