What is Vitamin E?
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin that acts as an antioxidant within our cell membranes.
Vitamin E in the Diet
As a fat-soluble vitamin, vitamin E is primarily found in the oils of nuts, seeds, legumes as well as vegetable oils and avocado.
In the US, the estimated average requirement (EAR) for vitamin E is 12 mg/day for adult men and women (including pregnant women) and 15 mg/day for lactating women. EFSA has not established an average requirement for vitamin E but has set an upper limit of 300 mg/day for adults.
Vitamin E and Your Eyes
Vitamin E is an antioxidant that works primarily in the cell membranes, where fats are stored and help maintain the cell walls. This is particularly important in the retina of the eye, which is highly concentrated with fatty acids, like EPA and DHA.
Vitamin E and Skin Health
Research on the skin health benefits of vitamin E supplements alone has had mixed results. Experts believe that vitamin E may be most beneficial for fair-skinned people who are at greater risk of the harmful effects from the sun. However, it may be more effective when combined with other antioxidants.1 As mentioned previously, vitamin E may work best in combination with vitamin C and beta-carotene.2
Vitamin E and Brain Health
As an antioxidant, vitamin E has long been considered a weapon against the cognitive deficits that occur with age and the more serious condition, Alzheimer’s disease. Several studies have found an association between vitamin E intake and a lower risk of cognitive decline. Studies that followed elderly individuals over several years found that use of either vitamin E or C supplements alone was associated with better cognitive performance after three and five years. Vitamins E and C taken together still had an effect but the difference was less significant.3 In another study, there was a 36 percent reduction in the rate of decline among those with the highest vitamin E intake compared with those with the lowest intake.4
The positive effect of vitamin E on cognitive function was also seen in a study where lower levels of all forms of vitamin E in the plasma portion of the blood was linked to increased risk for mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and Alzheimer’s disease.5 And in a clinical trial, vitamin E supplementation slowed the progression of disease in patients with moderately severe impairment from Alzheimer's disease, E.6
1 Nutrients. Aug 2010; 2(8): 903–92
2 Annu. Rev. Nutr. 2004. 24:173–20
3 Neurology. 2000. 54(6):1265-72
4 Arch Neurol. 2002 Jul;59(7):1125-32
5 Neurobiology of Aging. 2012. 33(10):2282-90
6 N Engl J Med 1997; 336:1216-22