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Vitamin E (tocopherol): foods, benefits & RDA

Siski Green / 18 May 2021

If you have been feeling lethargic and irritable and have had a lower sex drive than normal it may be that you are not getting enough vitamin E

Sunflower seeds and a sunflower head
Sunflower seeds are a great source of vitamin E

Vitamin E is extremely important in regulating all kinds of processes from energy levels, libido as well as skin.

What is vitamin E used for and does it really work?

Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that works in a variety of ways in your body including protecting you against heart disease, arthritis, diabetes and cancers. It’s also important in maintaining strong and healthy skin, protecting it against damage. As vitamin E can’t be made by the body it’s essential you get it via your diet and/or supplements.

What’s the best way to take is vitamin E?

It’s important to note that vitamin E can be destroyed during the cooking process, as well as storage to light and air, and even freezing. However, natural vitamin E is considered superior to the supplement form, so it’s worth trying to incorportate vitamin-E rich foods into your diet. Similarly, if you’re buying a supplement, look for ‘natural’ vitamin E, not synthetic. If in doubt, look for ‘d-alpha tocopherol’ rather than ‘di-alpha tocopherol’ (the ‘i’ after the ‘d’). Di-alpha is synethic. Aim for 100mg-200mg per day. Sometimes the strength is given in “units”. (200 units = 134 mg of vitamin E.)

Where can I get is vitamin E?

Luckily, vitamin E is many healthy foods such as nuts, sunflower seeds and oil, beans, bananas, apples, spinach, onions, salmon and prawns.

Can you have too much vitamin E?

Toxic reactions are unlikely as the body gets rid of excess. Doses of at least 800 mg daily are considered safe. Higher doses might cause nausea, wind and diarrhoea. Check with your doctor if you take insulin or anti-coagulant drugs or if you have high blood pressure.

What are the side effects or contraindications of taking is vitamin E?

The body expels excess vitamin C so it’s unlikely you will experience problems taking a supplement. If you take medications for heart disease or blood pressure, or for insulin levels, check with your GP before taking a supplement as it may interfere with the effects of the medication.

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.