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 Vitamin E: What is it? 

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Vitamin E: What is it?  

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Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin that exists in eight different forms.  Alpha-tocopherol (α-tocopherol) is the name of the most active form of vitamin E in humans. It is also a powerful biological antioxidant . Vitamin E in supplements is usually sold as alpha-tocopheryl acetate., The synthetic form is labeled "D, L" while the natural form is labeled "D". The synthetic form is only half as active as the natural form . 

Antioxidants such as vitamin E act to protect your cells against the effects of free radicals, which are potentially damaging by-products of energy metabolism. Free radicals can damage cells and may contribute to the development of cardiovascular disease and cancer. Studies are underway to determine whether vitamin E, through its ability to limit production of free radicals, might help prevent or delay the development of those chronic diseases. Vitamin E has also been shown to play a role in immune function, in DNA repair, and other metabolic processes 

What foods provide vitamin E?

Vegetable oils, nuts, green leafy vegetables, and fortified cereals are common food sources of vitamin E in the United States (U.S.). Table 1, Selected Food Sources of Vitamin E, suggests many food sources of vitamin E. Food values are listed in the alpha-tocopherol form of vitamin E.

Table 1: Selected Food Sources of Vitamin E
FOODMilligrams (mg)
per serving
Wheat germ oil, 1 tablespoon20.3100
Almonds, dry roasted, 1 ounce7.440
Sunflower seed kernels, dry roasted, 1 ounce6.030
Sunflower oil, over 60% linoleic, 1 tablespoon5.630
Safflower oil, over 70% oleic, 1 tablespoon4.625
Hazelnuts, dry roasted, 1 ounce4.320
Peanuts, dry roasted, 1 oz2.210
Spinach, frozen, chopped, boiled, cup1.66
Broccoli, frozen, chopped, boiled, cup1.26
Kiwi, 1 medium fruit without skin1.16
Mango, raw, without refuse, cup sliced0.96
Spinach, raw, 1 cup0.64
*DV = Daily Value. DVs are reference numbers developed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to help consumers determine if a food contains a lot or a little of a specific nutrient. The DV for vitamin E is 30 International Units (or about 20 mg alpha-tocopherol). Most food labels do not list a food's vitamin E content. The percent DV (%DV) listed on the table indicates the percentage of the DV provided in one serving. A food providing 5% of the DV or less is a low source while a food that provides 10-19% of the DV is a good source. A food that provides 20% or more of the DV is high in that nutrient. It is important to remember that foods that provide lower percentages of the DV also contribute to a healthful diet. For foods not listed in this table, please refer to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Nutrient Database.