Vitamin E: sources, benefits & risks


VITAMIN E is a vital nutrient for good health, and it’s found in a wide variety of foods and supplements. The best way to consume this vitamin is through a healthy diet. Deficiency is rare, and overdosing by using supplements is a concern. Those who have certain health conditions or take certain medicines should be cautious with supplements.
Vitamin E is a family of fat-soluble compounds. “It occurs naturally in eight different forms, including four tocopherols (alpha, beta, gamma and delta) and four tocotrienols.
Good dietary sources of vitamin E include nuts, such as almonds, peanuts and hazelnuts, and vegetable oils, such as sunflower, wheat germ, safflower, corn and soybean oils, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM). Sunflower seeds and green, leafy vegetables such as spinach and broccoli also contain vitamin E. The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for vitamin E is 15 milligrams (or 22.4 International Units, or IU) for people over age 14, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Women who are breastfeeding may need a little more vitamin E, so the RDA for lactating women is 19 mg (28.4 IU). Doses below 1,000 mg (1,500 IU) seem to be safe for most adults.
For infants up to age 6 months, the RDA is 4 mg (6 IU), and the RDA is 5 mg (7.5 IU) for ages 6 month to one year. From ages 1 to 3 years old, 4 to 8 years old and 9 to 13 years old, the RDAs for vitamin E are 6 mg (9 IU), 7 mg (10.4 IU) and 11 mg (16.4 IU), respectively, according to the NIH.
Most people are able to get enough vitamin E from a healthy diet and do not need supplements. Always consult with a doctor before taking any supplement, especially if you are taking medications. More than 250 medications are known to interact with vitamin E, according to
A vitamin E deficiency is very rare, though some people are more prone to a vitamin E deficiency than others, according to NIH. Infants, people with fat malabsorption and abetalipoproteinemia (a condition that prevents the body from completely absorbing certain dietary fats) are more likely to have vitamin E deficiency. Anemia, skeletal myopathy, ataxia, peripheral neuropathy, retinopathy, impairment of the immune response and nerve damage are signs that there may be a deficiency. Including sources of vitamin E in your diet brings many benefits. As a fat-soluble nutrient, vitamin E functions mainly as an antioxidant, which means it helps protect cells from damage caused by unstable molecules called free radicals.