Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin, necessary for many functions in the body (1). To stay well, get less frequent colds, infections, and lower the risk of chronic disease, vitamin E is essential (2, 3). Vitamin E can help prevent heart disease, cancer, cognitive decline (4, 5), and eye disorders (6).
Since vitamin E is fat-soluble and not water-soluble, it’s possible to consume too much vitamin E (7). However, this usually only happens through supplementation (8). It’s very rare to consume too much vitamin E from food alone. Be cautious about extra vitamin E in supplements and other health-food products.
Vitamin E insufficiency can sometimes happen. It’s most likely due to malabsorption or fat malabsorption issues instead of an actual lack of vitamin E from food (9, 10). The digestive tract needs the proper amount of fat to process vitamin E (11). So if digesting fat becomes an issue, vitamin E sufficiency can too. Fat malabsorption can happen for a variety of reasons. One common reason for fat malabsorption includes low stomach acid, also known as hypochlorhydria (12, 13). Others include a nutrient-poor diet, chronic stress, and a sedentary lifestyle (14). Chewing food poorly can also contribute to poor fat absorption (15).
Vitamin E is also necessary to boost the immune system, protecting the body against harmful bacteria and viruses (16, 17). Low vitamin E levels can also contribute to diseases like cystic fibrosis and liver disease (18). Vitamin E has strong antioxidant properties to prevent common diseases (19). This essential vitamin helps to protect the body from cell damage caused by free radicals (20).
Summary: Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin that boosts the immune system, lowers risk of chronic disease such as heart disease, cancer, or cognitive decline, and aids in eye health. Since it is a fat-soluble vitamin, fat malabsorption in the gut is the main reason for low vitamin E levels.
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Foods high in Vitamin E
Here is a list of foods high in vitamin E. See if you could incorporate them into your diet, if not already.
Wheatgerm is full of beneficial vitamins and minerals like vitamin E, folate, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, thiamine, and zinc (21). It’s also a healthy source of fiber and healthy essential fatty acids (22). Just one tablespoon of wheat germ oil contains 20.3 milligrams of vitamin E, which is 135 percent of the daily recommended allowance.
So, what is wheatgerm? It’s part of the wheat kernel. The only difference is it’s not in most processed wheat products. Wheatgerm is a nutritional powerhouse that’s added to many kinds of cereal, granolas, loaves of bread, and even on dessert toppings like pies. It’s naturally full of antioxidants that help the body fight off unnecessary inflammation and disease (23).
Wheatgerm is not for everyone, though. Those with allergies to gluten or heart disease should avoid adding wheat germ oil since it’s high in triglycerides (24). Too much of anything, even healthy foods, is never a good thing. Always try to vary your diet with whole foods that feel the best for your unique body.
Summary: Wheatgerm is a nutritional powerhouse full of vitamin E, folate, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, thiamine, zinc, fiber, and essential fatty acids. Just one tablespoon of wheat germ oil has 20.3 mg of vitamin E, or 135% of the daily recommended allowance. However, those who have a gluten allergy or heart disease should avoid adding this to their diets.
2. Sunflower Seeds
Only one ounce of sunflower seeds has 7.4 milligrams of vitamin E, making that 49 percent of the daily recommended intake. Sunflower seeds are full of nutritional benefits such as blood pressure and blood sugar stabilization, and much more (25, 26). That’s because they have vitamin E, protein, magnesium, and linoleic fatty acids (27).
Sunflower seeds come in the shell or without the shell. Some like to snack on them in the shell for the salty taste and habit. Sunflower seeds that come without the shell have the same nutritional value if you want to go without the process of taking the shell off. Sunflower seeds are easy to snack on, add to salads, smoothies, or even breakfast like oatmeal. You can also bake with sunflower seeds to add in an extra crunch of nutritional benefits.
Summary: Just one ounce of sunflower seeds has 7.4 mg of vitamin E, which is 49% of the daily recommended intake. They are also a rich source in protein, magnesium, and linoleic fatty acids. All of these nutrients help to lower blood pressure and stabilize blood sugar.
3. Almonds and Hazelnuts
Almonds and hazelnuts are full of beneficial magnesium as well as vitamin E (30). One ounce of dry-roasted almonds contains 6.8 milligrams of vitamin E. That’s 45 percent of the daily recommended amount. Hazelnuts follow closely behind at 4.3 milligrams per 3 ounces serving.
These two types of nuts all pack in a lot of magnesium, which helps to promote a healthy heart, deep sleep, healthy joints, and much more (31, 32). Start adding some more almonds and hazelnuts into your diet if you can.
An easy way to consume more almonds is through almond milk. Or, add shaved almonds to your breakfast cereal or oatmeal in the morning. Hazelnuts go well in many favorite desserts, so the next time you bake, see where you can add a nutritional boost of vitamin E, magnesium, and more with hazelnuts.
Summary: One ounce of dry-roasted almonds has 6.8 mg of vitamin E, or 45% of daily recommended amount. Hazelnuts have 4.3 mg per 3 ounces. They are also packed with magnesium, which helps promote heart, sleep, and joint health. These nutritious foods can be added to breakfast cereal or oatmeal, or even to your favorite desserts.
4. Sunflower and Safflower Oil
Only 1 tablespoon of each contains around 5 milligrams of vitamin E, with sunflower oil at a bit of a higher level. That makes up over 30 percent of the daily recommended requirement of vitamin E. Try to swap the oil you use to cook on occasion with sunflower or safflower oil to get a healthy dose of vitamin E. Or you can sprinkle these oils on salads, pasta dishes, and your favorite recipes for an extra flavor and nutritional boost.
Summary: Just 1 tablespoon of sunflower oil gives you 5 mg of vitamin E, or 30% of the daily recommended requirement. Swap the oil you use with sunflower or safflower oil on occasion. The combination of vitamin E, choline, phenolic acid, and many other nutrients helps to fight inflammation, soothe dry skin, and even improve blood sugar.
5. Peanuts and Peanut Butter
Peanuts and peanut butter are classic staple foods high in vitamin E (35, 36). Just 2 tablespoons of peanut butter contain 2.9 milligrams of vitamin E. Peanuts and peanut butter are also high in fat and calories, which is why a lot of people tend to avoid them altogether. But peanuts can be a healthy part of a balanced diet. It’s important to watch portion sizes, like any other high-calorie food.
Although peanuts are high in calories and fat, they’re low in carbohydrates (37). They’re full of other important vitamins and minerals, too. Some include essential B vitamins, magnesium, protein, fiber, potassium, and phosphorus (38). Peanut snacks like trail mix often come with extra calories and additives. Be cautious of serving sizes and try to get plain peanuts instead if you want a snack around the house.
Peanuts and peanut butter are not all bad. They can be a great addition to most diets. Don’t be afraid to indulge in peanuts and peanut butter occasionally.
Summary: Peanuts and peanut butter are a healthy addition to any diet. Peanut butter has 2.9 mg of vitamin E in 2 tablespoons. They may be higher in fat and calories, but they are rich in vitamin E, B, magnesium, protein, fiber, potassium, and phosphorus. Eat them in the right portion size and you can reap the many nutritious benefits without eating too many calories.
Just a half a cup of boiled spinach contains 1.9 milligrams of vitamin E. Spinach is one of the healthiest foods out there for most. As a dark leafy green, spinach is also high in vitamin A, K, magnesium, potassium, calcium, and folate (39, 40).
Spinach is not a good choice for those with kidney issues like kidney stones. That’s because spinach is high in oxalates, so they can contribute to kidney stones (41). This is also true for foods like beets, chocolate, tea, and some nuts (42). But that doesn’t mean these foods are unhealthy. It goes back to portion sizes and figuring out what works for your body. If you have a history of recurring kidney stones, these foods may be best to leave out of your diet.
Summary: Spinach is a very nutritious food with 1.9 mg of vitamin E. It is also packed with vitamin A, K, magnesium, potassium, calcium and folate. If you have kidney issues or recurring kidney stones, the high oxalates in spinach may be a factor, so make sure to limit portion sizes of spinach if needed.
Broccoli has the lowest amount of vitamin E, but it’s another solid source of this essential nutrient (43). One half a cup of broccoli contains 1.2 milligrams of vitamin E. Along with this, broccoli is a great choice to add to your everyday diet. Most people don’t have an issue with being able to tolerate broccoli. The only issue that usually comes up is a lack of desire.
But you can make broccoli tasty and enjoyable, adding it to many of your favorite meals. Broccoli can give a sweet crunch when seasoned right. Try to make your balsamic glaze with a little brown sugar and balsamic vinaigrette. All you need are these two ingredients, a stove, and a saucepan. Boil your mixture until it becomes a thicker type of reduction. Pour this on steamed or sautéed broccoli for a tasty crunch of nutrition.
Summary: Broccoli is another solid source of vitamin E, containing 1.2 mg per one half cup serving. It’s packed with other nutrients as well and can be easily added to your everyday diet. Steam or sauté broccoli and drizzle a balsamic vinaigrette on top, or simply serve raw broccoli with hummus or low-fat dressing.
Vitamin E plays a crucial role in the overall function of the body. It’s important to get adequate amounts of vitamin E per day through foods like these. Vitamin E is necessary to keep your immune system healthy and stay well (44). Although vitamin E deficiency is rare, insufficiency can occur with a poor diet (45). Try to monitor eating habits well. Do your best to make sure your daily diet is working for you to promote energy, endurance, and a healthy metabolism.
Symptoms of low vitamin E levels include loss of coordination, muscle fatigue or weakness, vision problems, or frequent colds, to name a few (46, 47). If you feel like you may be lacking in essential vitamin E from foods, make sure to speak with your doctor about what you can do to raise your vitamin E levels with foods and lifestyle changes.