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The "E"mazing Vitamin E: Roles, Benefits and Sources

The "E"mazing Vitamin E: Roles, Benefits, and Sources


According to the National Institutes of Health, Vitamin E is a "fat-soluble vitamin that acts as an antioxidant." Vitamin E has many beneficial roles, but its main six are to protect the brain, blood, skeletal, muscular, skin and bodily organs from the harmful effects of free radicals which are known for causing a variety of health concerns. The term vitamin E encompasses a group of eight compounds, called tocopherols and tocotrienols, that comprise the vitamin complex as it is found in nature.  

More Specific Benefits of Vitamin E

Vitamin E is necessary for the structural and functional maintenance of skeletal, cardiac, and smooth muscle. It also assists in the formation of red blood cells and helps to maintain stores of vitamins A and K, iron, and selenium. It may have a positive effect on immune health, protect against the oxidative damage (which I will talk about below) that can lead to heart disease, have preventive effects against cancer, help relieve symptoms of Alzheimer's disease, and may help prevent some diabetes-related damage, particularly to the eyes.

✮ Protects the skin from ultraviolet light

Vitamin E directly protects the skin from ultraviolet radiation (also called UV light). In numerous research studies, vitamin E applied topically to the skin has been shown to prevent UV damage.

✮ Prevents cell damage from free radicals and oxidative stress

✮ Although humans must breathe oxygen to stay alive, oxygen is a risky substance inside the body because it can make molecules overly reactive. When oxygen-containing molecules become too reactive, they can start damaging the cell structures around them. In chemistry, this imbalanced situation involving oxygen is called oxidative stress. Vitamin E, thus, protects the lungs.

✮ Allows body cells to communicate effectively

✮ Protects against kidney and many other types of cancers

What may vitamin E deficiency look and feel like?

✘ Digestive system problems, especially malabsorption

✘ Tingling or loss of sensation in the arms, hands, legs, or feet

✘ Liver or gallbladder problems

Sources of Vitamin E

Excellent sources of vitamin E include spinach, chard, and turnip greens, collard greens, kale, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts and wheat germ oil.

Very good sources include mustard greens, cayenne pepper, almonds, sunflower seeds, and other peanut and nut butters, asparagus, and bell peppers, tomatoes, cranberries, papayas, raspberries, kiwi, corn oil, carrots and some fortified cereal.

Dosage: How much vitamin E does a child need?

Ages 1 to 3 years: 6 milligrams (mg), or 9 IU, of vitamin E per day
Ages 4 to 8 years: 7 mg, or 10.5 IU, per day

Many children don't get enough vitamin E from diet alone, but your child doesn't have to get the recommended daily amount of vitamin E every day. Instead, aim for that amount as an average over the course of a few days or a week.

Ages 14–18 years (Teens): 15 mg (22.4 IU)
Adults: 15 mg (22.4 IU)
Pregnant: 15 mg (22.4 IU)
Breastfeeding: 19 mg (28.4 IU)

Can your child get too much vitamin E?

Baby Center reports that Vitamin E is not toxic unless your child has blood coagulating problems. “It's far more likely that your child won't get enough of this vital nutrient. But because vitamin E can act as an anticoagulant, which increases the risk of bleeding problems, the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine has set upper intake levels for vitamin E. (This is the maximum amount considered safe.)”

A 2- or 3-year-old child should get no more than 200 mg (or 300 IU) of vitamin E per day. A 4- to 8-year-old child should get no more than 300 mg (or 450 IU) of vitamin E per day.


Reseouces: Mayo Clinic, WebMD, MedLine Plus, Mercola

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