Vitamin E is an essential fat-soluble vitamin that is not one molecule, but a group molecules called tocopherols and tocotrienols. The form that is actively used and managed in the body is called alpha-tocopherol.1 Good food sources of Vitamin E include vegetable oils (walnut, canola, olive, sunflower, and safflower), nuts, whole grains, and leafy vegetables.2
The 100% Daily Value for Vitamin E (based on a 2,000 kcal diet) is 30 International Units (IU) (20 mg),3 but it has been revised to 15 mg and the unit changed to mg from IU by FDA as of May 27, 2016.13 The 100% Daily Value for pregnant or lactating women is 19 mg, effective as of January 1st, 2020.13 The Reference Dietary Intakes for Vitamin E has been set by using alpha-tocopherol.1
- d-Alpha Tocopherol (RRR-alpha tocopherol): d-Alpha tocopherol is natural vitamin E that has high antioxidant potency. d-Alpha tocopherol is now currently named RRR-alpha tocopherol.
- d-Alpha-tocopheryl Acetate: d-Alpha-tocopheryl Acetate is produced by the combination of Vitamin E (d-Alpha tocopherol) and the organic acid, acetic acid.
- d-Alpha Tocopheryl Acid Succinate: d-Alpha-tocopheryl Acetate is produced by the combination of Vitamin E (d-Alpha tocopherol) and the organic acid, succinic acid.
- Beta Tocopherol: See Mixed Tocopherols and Tocotrienols
- Delta tocopherol: See Mixed Tocopherols and Tocotrienols
- Gamma tocopherol: See Mixed Tocopherols and Tocotrienols
- Mixed Tocopherols and Tocotrienols: Tocopherols and tocotrienols are vitamin-E molecules which have antioxidant potency. Currently, there are eight forms of vitamin E (alpha, beta, gamma, and delta tocopherols and alpha, beta, gamma, and delta tocotrienols). Mixed tocopherols are a blend of alpha, beta, gamma, and delta tocopherols, and mixed tocotrienols are a blend of alpha, beta, and gamma and delta tocotrienols. The body converts these stable forms to free tocopherols that can act as antioxidants in the body.
Major Health Benefits
Vitamin E possesses antioxidant properties, protecting cell damage by unstable chemicals called free radicals. Research has suggested that vitamin E is helpful for protecting brain tissue as well as supporting the immune system.4,5 Vitamin E also protects macronutrients (e.g., proteins and lipids) as well as DNA from oxidative damage, and thus adequate consumption of Vitamin E ultimately leads to the prevention of cardiovascular disease caused by oxidative stress.6-9 Vitamin E is known to have an anti-clotting effect (preventing platelet aggregation) and helps blood flow better throughout the body by widening of blood vessels (vasodilation), which is good for heart health.10
The recommended maximum level (Tolerable Upper Level) of Vitamin E (d-Alpha Tocopherol) per day is 1,500 IU (1,000 mg)11. Excessive consumption of Vitamin E above the maximum level may increase chance of hemorrhage11. Individuals who are Vitamin K deficient or on an anticoagulation therapy should be cautious when taking Vitamin E supplements since they may be at a higher risk for hemorrhage12.
Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine. Vitamin E. Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Selenium, and Carotenoids. Washington D.C.: National Academy Press; 2000: 95-186 (pp. 187)
Higdon, J. Vitamin E. Linus Pauling Institute, Oregon State University. 2000. (Reviewed in 2008 by Traber MG.) (Food Sources) http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/vitamins/vitamin-e Accessed 7/2015.
US Food and Drug Administration. Guidance for Industry: A Food Labeling Guide (14. Appendix F: Calculate the Percent Daily Value for the Appropriate Nutrients). US Department of Health and Human Services. 2013 January. http://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/GuidanceDocumentsRegulatoryInformation/LabelingNutrition/ucm064928.htm
Sen CK, Rink C, Khanna S. Palm oil-derived natural vitamin E alpha-tocotrienol in brain health and disease. J Am Coll Nutr. 2010 Jun;29(3 Suppl):314S-323S. PMID: 20823491; PMCID: PMC30654415.
Salinthone S, Kerns AR, Tsang V, Carr DW. Alpha-Tocopherol (vitamin E) stimulates cyclic AMP production in human peripheral mononuclear cells and alters immune function. Mol Immunol. 2013 Mar;53(3):173-8. PMID: 22947771.
European Food Safety Authority. Scientific Opinion on the substantiation of health claims related to vitamin E and protection of DNA, proteins and lipids from oxidative damage, maintenance of the normal function of the immune, maintenance of normal bone, maintenance of normal teeth, maintenance of normal hair, maintenance of normal skin, maintenance of normal nails, maintenance of normal cardiac function, maintenance of normal vision by protection of the lens of the eye, contribution to normal cognitive function, regeneration of the reduced form of vitamin C, maintenance of normal blood circulation and maintenance of normal a scalp. EFSA Journal 2010; 8(10): 1816.
Rimm EB, Stampfer MJ, Ascherio A, Giovannucci E, Colditz GA, Willett WC. Vitamin E consumption and the risk of coronary heart disease in men. N Engl J Med. 1993;328(20):1450-1456. PMID: 8479464.
Stampfer MJ, Hennekens CH, Manson JE, Colditz GA, Rosner B, Willett WC. Vitamin E consumption and the risk of coronary disease in women. N Engl J Med. 1993 May 20;328(20):1444-9. PMID: 8479463.
Vardi M, Levy NS, Levy AP. Vitamin E in the prevention of cardiovascular disease: the importance of proper patient selection. J Lipid Res. 2013 Sep;54(9):2307-14. PMID: 23505320; PMCID: PMC3735930.
Traber MG. Does vitamin E decrease heart attack risk? Summary and implications with respect to dietary recommendations. J Nutr. 2001 Feb;131(2):395S-7S. PMID: 11160568.
Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine. Vitamin E. Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Selenium, and Carotenoids. Washington D.C.: National Academy Press; 2000: 95-186 (pp. 186)
Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine. Vitamin E. Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Selenium, and Carotenoids. Washington D.C.: National Academy Press; 2000: 95-186 (pp. 252)
US Food and Drug Administration. Food Labeling: Revision of the Nutrition and Supplement Facts Labels. US Department of Health and Human Services. Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 103, p. 33982 / May 27, 2016. https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2016-05-27/pdf/2016-11867.pdf