Vitamin E: Health Benefits, Deficiency & Food Sources

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Vitamin E is an important fat-soluble antioxidant vitamin that helps the body in neutralizing the harmful after-effects of oxidation of fats.

Current research is even looking into the important role that this vitamin plays in stopping free-radical production, a key method of preventing the development of chronic diseases and aging.

It is also a vital element in the overall maintenance of a healthy immune system.

Some studies are even looking into its role in preventing degenerative mental imbalances such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

And while many of us may do well in taking extra vitamin E supplements, we can use an organic diet to get a large amount of the daily requirements for this powerful antioxidant vitamin.

In fact, there are many common foods with vitamin E.

Some Important Health Benefits of Vitamin E

1. Balances Cholesterol

Cholesterol is a naturally occurring substance made by the liver and required by the body for the proper function of your cells, nerves, and hormones.

When cholesterol levels are in their natural state, they are balanced, normal and healthy. When it oxidizes, it becomes dangerous.

Studies have shown that Vitamin E serves as a protective antioxidant that fights cholesterol oxidation (1).

This is because vitamin E can fight free radical damage in the body, which leads to cholesterol oxidation.

2. Fights Free Radicals and Prevents Disease Development

Free radicals are high reactive form of oxygen that are missing an electron and due to their reactive nature they break down the healthy cells in your body and this can lead to heart disease and cancer.

These molecules form naturally in your body and they can cause severe damage when they accelerate or oxidize.

Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that has the power to reduce free radical damage, fight inflammation, and therefore to help to naturally slow aging in your cells and fight off health issues like heart disease (2).

Studies have shown that Vitamin E can significantly increase immunity, therefore helping to prevent both common illnesses and serious conditions from forming (3).

3. Repairs Damaged Skin

Vitamin E helps to strengthen the capillary walls in your skin and to improve moisture and elasticity, acting as a natural anti aging nutrient within your body.

Studies have shown that Vitamin E  helps to reduce inflammation both within your body and on your skin, helping to maintain healthy, youthful skin (4).

These antioxidant properties are also helpful when you are exposed to cigarette smoke or ultraviolet rays from sunlight, protecting against skin cancer.

Taking vitamin E with vitamin C fights skin inflammation after exposure to UV radiation and can also be useful in decreasing signs of acne and eczema.

Vitamin E also helps the healing process in the skin. It is absorbed by the epidermis layer of the skin and can be used to treat sunburn, which is one of the leading causes of skin cancer among other factors. Because it speeds up cell regeneration, it can be used to treat scars, acne, and wrinkles; this makes your skin look healthier and younger.

4. Thickens Hair

Because Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant, it helps to decrease environmental damage to your hair. It can also promote circulation to the scalp.

Vitamin E oil can retain the natural moisture in your skin, which will help your scalp from becoming dry and flakey.

This oil will also make your hair look healthier and fresher. You can apply a few drops of vitamin E oil on your hair, especially if it is looking dry and dull.

5. Balances Hormones

Vitamin E can help to play a crucial role in balancing your endocrine and nervous system, naturally working to help keep your hormones balanced (5).

Symptoms of a hormonal imbalance may include PMS, weight gain, allergies, urinary tract infections, changes in the skin, anxiety, and fatigue.

By keeping your hormones in balance, you will find it easier to maintain a healthy weight, you will keep a regular menstrual cycle, and you will find yourself feeling more energetic.

6. Helps Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) Symptoms

Taking a vitamin E supplement 2-3 days before and 2-3 days after a menstrual period can reduce the cramping, anxiety, and cravings that are related to PMS.

Vitamin E can decrease pain severity and duration, and it can reduce menstrual blood loss. It does this by balancing your hormones naturally and it helps to keep your menstrual cycle regulated. 

7. Protects Against Macular Degeneration

Vitamin E may help decrease the risk of age-related macular degeneration, which is a common cause of blindness. Keep in mind, in order for vitamin E to be effective for vision, it must also be consumed with adequate intakes of vitamin C, beta carotene, and zinc.

It has also been found that taking high doses of vitamin E and vitamin A daily seems to improve healing and vision in people undergoing laser eye surgery.

8. Helps People with Alzheimer’s disease

Vitamin E may slow down the worsening of memory loss and functional decline in people with moderately severe Alzheimer’s disease.

It may also delay the loss of independence and the need for a caregiver or assistance. Vitamin E, taken with Vitamin C, can also decrease the risk of developing several forms of dementia (6).

9. Improves Effects of Medical Treatments

Vitamin E is sometimes used to lessen the harmful effects of medical treatments such as radiation and dialysis.

This is because it is a powerful antioxidant that fights off free radicals in the body. It is also used to reduce unwanted side effects of drugs that may cause hair loss or lung damage.

10. Improves Physical Endurance and Muscle Strength

Vitamin E can be used to improve your physical endurance.

It can increase your energy and reduce the level of oxidative stress on your muscles after you exercise (7).

Vitamin E can also improve your muscle strength. Vitamin E eliminates fatigue by promoting blood circulation; it can also strengthen your capillary walls and nourish your cells.

Vitamin E Deficiency Symptoms

Vitamin E deficiencies are rare and it is almost never caused by a poor diet.

There are specific situations that may lead to a vitamin E deficiency.

A premature infant who is born weighing less than 3.5 pounds is in danger of a vitamin E deficiency but a pediatrician who specializes in the care of newborns will typically evaluate the nutritional needs of an infant.

People with fat absorption problems, which is a common problem for those who struggle with inflammatory bowel disease, may struggle with a deficiency.

People who have an issue with their dietary fat levels are also at risk because this is needed for the absorption of vitamin E.

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This includes anyone who has been diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, has had a gastric bypass, or people with malabsorption problems such as Cohn’s disease, liver disease, or pancreatic insufficiency.

Deficiency symptoms include loss of muscle coordination, and impaired vision and speech.

Foods Rich in Vitamin E

Here are some foods with vitamin E that you should strongly consider adding to your diet.

1. Almonds

Almonds are one the best vitamin E foods. Just an ounce of almonds offers a whopping 7.4 milligrams of vitamin E. You can also get your vitamin E needs in the form of almond milk and almond oils.

We would recommend eating raw almonds, if possible.

2. Raw Seeds

Select raw seeds, such as sunflower, pumpkin and sesame, are another common food with vitamin E. In fact, eating just ¼ of a cup of sunflower seeds gives you 90.5 of your recommended daily value, making them one of the best vitamin E foods you can eat daily.

3. Mustard Greens

Mustard greens are very nutrient dense and will provide a variety of health benefits.

Not only are they one of the best vitamin E foods, but mustard greens are also high in vitamin K, vitamin A, folate, and vitamin c. Eating just one cup of boiled mustard greens contains about 14 of your daily dietary requirements.

We would recommend eating organic mustard greens, if possible.

4. Spinach

Spinach may not be your favorite, but it is one of the best leafy greens you can add to your diet.

Not only is it one of the best calcium foods and naturally high in folate, it’s also one of the best vitamin E foods as well.

Just one cup of boiled spinach will provide you with approximately 20 of your daily needs.

5. Plant oils

Most plant seed oils are very good sources for Vitamin E as well. The best oil with vitamin E is Wheat germ oil.

In fact, one tablespoon of this oil holds 100 of your daily Vitamin E requirements. Sunflower oil is another excellent option, as it provides over 5 mg of the vitamin, and can easily be be used for cooking.

Other great Vitamin-E-rich oils include hempseed oil, coconut oil, cottonseed oil (with almost 5 mg of vitamin E), olive oil and safflower oil.

We would recommend only buying oils that are cold pressed unrefined and organic.

6. Avocado

Perhaps one of the tastiest foods with Vitamin E, avocados represent natures creamiest, oil-rich food. Just half of an avocado holds more than 2 mg of vitamin E.

Avocados are very easy to incorporate into your diet.

7. Papaya

This popular fruit is most commonly known as one of the best vitamin C foods, but it’s also high in Vitamin E.

Just one papaya will give you approximately 17 of your daily needs.

Try adding fresh or frozen papaya to fruit smoothies, along with other fruity vitamin E foods on this list for an extra healthy snack.

These are just a few examples of foods with vitamin E.

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Emmanuel is a Bio-chemist currently pursuing his masters degree in one of the most prestigious schools in Nigeria. He is passionate about health and fitness as well as creating guides to help you live a good life. Get in touch: [email protected]