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Vitamin E: Sources, Forms, Benefits, Dosage & Deficiency Symptoms

Making sure you have enough vitamin E in your diet will help to support your immune system and keep your eyes healthy. Eating a salad of dark greens with a light oil and vinegar dressing can be a simple way to incorporate a little more vitamin E into your day. If you find it difficult to get enough vitamin E, you can also try a vitamin E supplement. Learn more about this important essential vitamin.

06 May 2019 • 7 MIN Katie Vita
Vitamin E: Sources, Forms, Benefits, Dosage & Deficiency Symptoms

Article at a Glance

  • Vitamin E is one of 13 essential vitamins you need in your diet.
  • Vitamin E provides many important benefits including strengthening the immune system, protecting cell membranes and supporting eye health.
  • Vitamin E is available in both natural and synthetic forms. Dietary sources include oils, seeds, nuts, whole grains, and dark vegetables.
  • While vitamin E deficiency is uncommon if it occurs symptoms may include muscular pain, neurological issues, and hemolytic anemia in extreme cases.

Making sure you have enough vitamin E in your diet will help to support your immune system and keep your eyes healthy. Eating a salad of dark greens with a light oil and vinegar dressing can be a simple way to incorporate a little more vitamin E into your day. If you find it difficult to get enough vitamin E, you can also try a vitamin E supplement. Read on below to learn more about this important essential vitamin.

What Is Vitamin E?

Vitamin E is one of 13 essential vitamins, as well as an antioxidant. Essential vitamins need to be present in the diet because the human body cannot make the nutrients on its own, or in sufficient amounts to sustain normal and healthy bodily functions. Vitamin E is considered an essential vitamin due to its many physiological health benefits.[1]

Along with being essential, vitamin E is also fat-soluble, which means unlike water-soluble vitamins, these nutrients are stored in the liver and the fat cells of fatty tissue. Since the four fat-soluble vitamins, vitamin A, D, E, and K are stored in tissue and not as easily flushed out of the body, there is a risk to develop toxic side effects. However, toxicity only occurs when the vitamin is taken in very high concentrations.

Benefits of Vitamin E

Vitamin E strengthens the immune system and has antioxidant properties that protect the body and cells from free radicals. Vitamin E most notably protects the cell membrane, which is necessary for cell stability and function and protects DNA from free radicals. Vitamin E’s antioxidant properties are heightened when consumed with vitamin C and selenium. Due to vitamin E’s antioxidant properties, research demonstrates probable cause that vitamin E plays a role in the prevention of cancer, such as colon and bladder cancer.[1][2]

Along with being an antioxidant and boosting the immune system, vitamin E supports vision and ocular health. When it comes to the eyes, vitamin E plays the biggest role in protection from age-related macular degeneration and cataracts, which are growths on the eyes that cause cloudy vision, and if untreated, blindness.[1][2] Vitamin E also lowers inflammation and may protect from certain conditions such as coronary heart disease, and cognitive decline.

Forms of Vitamin E — Which Is Best?

Natural Vitamin E is composed of eight different active compounds found in the forms of tocopherols or tocotrienols. The types include alpha (α-), beta (β-), gamma (γ-), and delta (δ-) -tocopherol and -tocotrienol.[2] Alpha–tocopherol is the most active and bioavailable form and is found in blood and tissue along with small amounts of gama-tocopherol.[3][4] Even though alpha-tocopherol is the most active, all of the vitamin E isomers, especially gama-tocopherol benefit the body in a unique way so it is important to receive mixed tocopherols for optimal benefits.[5]

Vitamin E is found in both natural and synthetic forms; however, the bioavailability is not equal. Natural vitamin E, specifically α –tocopherol is more bioavailable than the synthetic form.[6] 

Sources of Vitamin E — From Food and Nutrition Supplements

Dietary sources rich in vitamin E include:

  • Vegetable oils
  • Salad dressings
  • Wheat germ
  • Margarine
  • Whole grains
  • Seeds
  • Nuts
  • Dark green vegetables [7] 

Most of the vitamin E consumed in an American diet is in the form of gama-tocopherol as this form is predominantly found in seeds and oils.[3][5] When consuming fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin E, it is best to accompany these nutrients with a dietary fat for optimal absorption. Also, the level of vitamin E in food sources may be reduced during storage, preparation, and food processing. To preserve vitamin E content use light heat while cooking, and store food in airtight containers.

The natural and synthetic forms of vitamin E that are found in nutrition supplements include alpha-tocopherol, mixed tocopherols, or mixed tocotrienols. Healthycell® uses a mixed, natural tocopherol form for a balanced blend of the vitamin E compounds for optimal absorption and health benefits.

Recommended Daily Dose of Vitamin E — What Physicians Advise

The recommended daily dose for nutrients is unique to a person’s age, gender, and other personal factors. The Food and Nutrition Board (FNB) established a recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for vitamin E in the form of alpha-tocopherol for healthy individuals. Vitamin E is typically measured in international units (IU). One IU equals 0.67 mg (milligram) of natural vitamin E and 0.45 mg of synthetic vitamin E.

For infants, the RDA has not been established as there is not enough data for this group, but an adequate intake (AI) level of 6 – 7.5 IU has been set as a guideline for nutritional adequacy. The RDA for vitamin E for healthy adults is 22.4 IU for both men and women. Additional vitamin E may be required when the diet is high in polyunsaturated fatty acids.

Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of Vitamin E

Infants (0 – 12 months) 4 – 5 mg/day (6 – 7.5 IU) AI

Children (1 – 8 years) 6 – 7 mg/day (9 – 10.4 IU)

Adolescents (9 – 18 years) 11 – 15 mg/day (16.4 – 22.4 IU)

Adults (19+ years) 15 mg/day (22.4 IU)

Pregnant and Lactating Women 15 – 19 mg/day (22.4 – 28.4 IU)

Table 1: Daily Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) to Meet the Needs of Healthy Individuals [4]

Certain populations may need to be more mindful when evaluating their vitamin E needs. Individuals using blood-thinning medications, such as warfarin or Coumadin®, need to be thoughtful of their vitamin E intake as excessive amounts can cause a bleeding risk. Other individuals who are recommended to consult with their physicians to determine vitamin E needs include those undergoing chemotherapy or radiation as vitamin E may interfere with the therapy.[3] With any particular medication or health condition, it is always best to consult with your primary healthcare provider before taking the Healthycell® products or any nutrition supplement.

Vitamin E Toxicity

Vitamin E toxicity is rare and not often seen from food sources and even nutrition supplements. When toxicity is reached it is typically only seen in cases of extreme mega-dosing with supplements. Symptoms include excessive bleeding and hemorrhage. To avoid toxicity complications a tolerable upper intake level (UL) has been established for all age groups, however, the guidelines exclude infants as a UL has not been established.

Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) of Vitamin E

Infants (0 – 12 months) –

Children (1–8 years) 200 – 300 mg/day (300 – 450 IU)

Adolescents (9 – 18 years) 600 – 800 mg/day (900 – 1,200 IU)

Adults (19+ years) 1,000 mg/day (1,500 IU)

Pregnant and Lactating Women 1,000 mg/day (1,200 – 1,500 IU)

Table 2: Daily Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) [2]

Vitamin E Deficiency — Symptoms and People at Risk

Vitamin E deficiency is uncommon.

Those at risk for vitamin E deficiency include:

  • Malnourished infants
  • Individuals with genetic abnormalities
  • Those with diseases that cause malabsorption such as cystic fibrosis or Crohn’s disease 

Individuals who have difficulty absorbing fat are at risk of deficiency because dietary fat is required to absorb fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin E. For this reason, these populations may use a water-soluble form called tocopheryl polyethylene glycol-1000 succinate or may mega-dose in amounts between 5–10 grams of vitamin E per day.

Symptoms of vitamin E deficiency include muscular pain, lack of coordination, neurological issues, and in very extreme cases, hemolytic anemia, which causes red blood cells to rupture.

Vitamin E in Healthycell® Products — Only the Best Form

Bioactive Multi (A MICROGEL™ product) 

The form of vitamin E can make a difference in your health. Healthycell® uses only the best form of vitamin E, which is mixed natural tocopherols for optimal absorption and health benefits. The form of vitamin E Bioactive Multi contains is D-alpha tocopheryl acetate from sunflower. The dosage of vitamin E in Bioactive Multi is 15 mg, which satisfies 100 percent of the Daily Value (%DV).  

Healthycell® and Healthycell® Pro

The dosage of vitamin E in Healthycell® and Healthycell® Pro is 15 IU in the morning formula and 15 IU in the evening formula, for a daily dose of 30 IU, or 20.1 mg, satisfying 100 percent of the Daily Value (%DV). Nutrition supplement labeling and food labeling guidelines use Reference Daily Intake (RDI) as the standard for dosage.

 Conclusion and Recommendations

  • Vitamin E is an essential vitamin that strengthens the immune system, supports vision and eye health, and protects cell membranes.
  • Although a vitamin E deficiency is not common, it can cause muscular pain, neurological problems, and, in rare cases, a condition called hemolytic anemia.
  • If you take blood thinners, be mindful of your vitamin E intake as too much may cause a bleeding risk.


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Soluble Vitamins.” Nutritional Sciences: From Fundamentals to Food. 2nd ed.

Australia: Thomson/Wadsworth, 2007. 501-504. Print.

2. “Vitamin E — Health Professional Fact Sheet.” U.S National Institutes of Health. U.S.

National Library of Medicine, 31 Aug. 2016. Web. 23 Sept. 2016.

3. Balch, Phyllis A., CNC. Prescription for Nutritional Healing. 4th ed. New York: Avery, Print.

4. Brasaemle, Dawn, PhD. “Antioxidant Lecture.” Rutgers University – Antioxidants. New

Brunswick. 2015. Lecture

5. Jiang, Qing, Stephan Christen, Mark K. Shigenaga, and Bruce N. Ames. “γ-Tocopherol,

the Major Form of Vitamin E in the US Diet, Deserves More Attention1,2,3.” The American

Journal of Clinical Nutrition74 (2001): 714-22. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

American Society for Clinical Nutrition. Web.

6. Higdon, Jane, PhD, Victoria J. Drake, PhD, and Barbara Delage, PhD. “Vitamin E.”

Oregon State University. Linus Pauling Institute, 05 May 2017. Web. 08 June 2017.

7. Marcason, Wendy, RDN. “Antioxidants – Protecting Healthy Cells.” Eat Right. A, 22

Dec. 2014. Web. 07 Oct. 2016.