Nutrient to Know: Vitamin E

by in Food News, Nutrients to Know, May 21, 2009

You may know that antioxidants benefit your health, but how much do you know about them all? Where to get them? How much you need? We’re continuing our series on the most common nutrients, starting with vitamin E. (Catch up with our first post on choline.)

What is it?
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin that helps protect cells from damage that may cause heart disease and certain types of cancer. Antioxidants work by blocking the action of free radicals –- naturally occurring (but pesky) substances that damage cells throughout your body.

Why is it good for you?
Vitamin E has been linked to helping protect against prostate and colorectal cancer, but more research is pending on the long-term value. When it comes to heart health, vitamin E helps prevent cholesterol build up in your blood. It also helps boost your immunity and keep your skin and hair healthy.

Many people get their vitamin E from supplements, which have gone in and out of popularity in recent years — mostly because some research has shown mega-doses can be dangerous. But rest assured, these risks don’t exist when you get your vitamin E from food sources.

Where can I find it?
Vitamin E-rich foods include vegetable oils, green leafy vegetables, whole grains, wheat germ, sunflower seeds, peanut butter and egg yolks. You can easily and safely meet your daily needs of 15 milligrams a day from these foods. To give you an idea, the following contain between 3 and 4 milligrams of vitamin E:

  • 1 cup cooked Swiss chard
  • 1 cup cooked spinach
  • 2 Tbsp peanut butter
  • 1 Tbsp canola oil
  • 1 Tbsp safflower oil
  • 1/4 cup wheat germ
  • 1 Tbsp sunflower seeds
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