Vitamin E (Alpha-Tocopherol): Reference and Dietary Sources
In this article, we describe:
- the major purposes of this specific nutrient in the human body,
- its experimentally confirmed health uses,
- conventional ways to estimate nutrient status,
- nutrient’s toxicities and deficiencies,
- experimentally confirmed and approved levels of the nutrient intake for different demographics,
- dietary sources of the nutrient.
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“Vitamin E” is the collective name for a group of fat-soluble compounds with distinctive antioxidant activities.
Naturally occurring vitamin E exists in eight chemical forms, but alpha- (or α-) tocopherol is the only form that is recognized to meet human requirements. Serum concentrations of vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) depend on the liver, which takes up the nutrient after the various forms are absorbed from the small intestine.
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble antioxidant that stops the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) formed when fat undergoes oxidation. In addition to that, vitamin E is involved in immune function and metabolic processes.
Frank vitamin E deficiency is rare and overt deficiency symptoms have not been found in healthy people who obtain little vitamin E from their diets. Health benefits of alpha-tocoferol were reported for delaying and prevention of coronary heart disease, cancer, eye disorders, and cognitive decline. Research has not found any adverse effects from consuming vitamin E in food. However, high doses of alpha-tocopherol supplements can cause hemorrhage and interrupt blood coagulation in animals.
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Research has not found any adverse effects from consuming vitamin E in food. However, high doses of alpha-tocopherol supplements can cause hemorrhage and interrupt blood coagulation in animals, and in vitro data suggest that high doses inhibit platelet aggregation.
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Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) Vitamin E (Alpha-Tocopherol)
|0–6 months*||4 mg|
|7–12 months*||5 mg|
|1–3 years||6 mg|
|4–8 years||7 mg|
|9–13 years||11 mg|
|14+ years||15 mg|
- Adequate Intake (AI). Tolerable Upper Intake Levels (ULs) for Vitamin E is established as 1,000 mg (1,500 IU).
- To convert from mg to IU:1 mg of alpha-tocopherol is equivalent to 1.49 IU of the natural form or 2.22 IU of the synthetic form.
- To convert from IU to mg:1 IU of the natural form is equivalent to 0.67 mg of alpha-tocopherol.1 IU of the synthetic form is equivalent to 0.45 mg of alpha-tocopherol.
Food Sources of Vitamin E (Alpha-Tocopherol)
Numerous foods provide vitamin E. Nuts, seeds, and vegetable oils are among the best sources of alpha-tocopherol, and significant amounts are available in green leafy vegetables and fortified cereals. Mostly, it is obtained in the form of gamma-tocopherol from soybean, canola, corn, and other vegetable oils and food products.
Selected Food Sources of Vitamin E (Alpha-Tocopherol)
|Wheat germ oil, 1 tablespoon||20.3||135|
|Dry roasted sunflower seeds, 1 ounce||7.4||49|
|Dry roasted almonds, 1 ounce||6.8||45|
|Sunflower oil, 1 tablespoon||5.6||37|
|Safflower oil, 1 tablespoon||4.6||31|
|Dry roasted hazelnuts, 1 ounce||4.3||29|
|Peanut butter, 2 tablespoons||2.9||19|
|Dry roasted peanuts, 1 ounce||2.2||15|
|Corn oil, 1 tablespoon||1.9||13|
|Spinach, boiled, ½ cup||1.9||13|
|Broccoli, chopped, boiled, ½ cup||1.2||8|
|Soybean oil, 1 tablespoon||1.1||7|
|Kiwifruit, 1 medium||1.1||7|
|Mango, sliced, ½ cup||0.7||5|
|Tomato, raw, 1 medium||0.7||5|
|Spinach, raw, 1 cup||0.6||4|
- *DV = Daily Value.
- The DV for vitamin E used for the values in the table above is 3is 15 mg for adults and children age 4 years and older. 1 mg vitamin E = 1 mg RRR-alpha-tocopherol = 2 mg all rac-alpha-tocopherol.
- Foods providing 20% or more of the DV are considered to be high sources of a nutrient, but foods providing lower percentages of the DV also contribute to a healthful diet.
- Elson Haas. “Staying Healthy with Nutrition”
- U.S. Department of Health & Human Services: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminE-HealthProfessional/
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