Vitamin E FAQ
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What is Vitamin E and Where Does it Come From?
Vitamin E refers to a group of 10 different fat-soluble vitamins, the most common of which are known as tocopherols and feature heavily in the average Western diet.
This group of vitamins plays a number of different roles within the human body, not least providing antioxidant protection against the cellular damage caused by free radicals and other environmental toxins.
What Types of Vitamin E are There?
There are two primary classes of Vitamin E, referred to as tocotrienols and the aforementioned tocopherols.
Within these two classes of Vitamin E there are five subdivisions which are identified as alpha- (α-), beta- (β-), gamma- (γ-), delta- (δ-), and epsilon (ε-).
The most common forms of Vitamin E found in dietary sources are α-tocopherol and γ-tocopherol, with the former being the most biologically active within the human body.
It is also worth noting at this point that the vast majority of scientific research that has been conducted on Vitamin E has focused predominantly on tocopherols; due to the lack of data available on tocotrienols this FAQ will primarily be focusing on tocopherol or variants.
How does Vitamin E Work and What are the Benefits?
The antioxidant functions of Vitamin E work primarily by scavenging free radicals in the body, converting them into tocopherol radicals which are subsequently reduced by means of a hydrogen donor such as Vitamin C. This helps to prevent a proliferation of harmful free radicals.
Another aspect of the antioxidant function of Vitamin E is that it can help to prevent the oxidization of unstable polyunsaturated fatty acids.
Gene expression is another area where Vitamin E comes into play, helping in the repair of wounded tissue as a result of atherosclerosis.
For those of you who are unaware, atherosclerosis is a term used to describe a condition where arteries can become clogged with fatty substances. This is usually a result of excessive levels of cholesterol due to an unhealthy diet and lifestyle.
Who Can Benefit from Taking Vitamin E and How?
There do not appear to be any benefits offered by Vitamin E that are specific to the fields of bodybuilding or athleticism in general; however, it does appear to be a worthwhile nutrient to include in one’s diet for the maintenance of ongoing health and well-being in general.
If it does turn out that your blood cholesterol levels are particularly unfavorable then it may well be worth speaking to your doctor about adding a Vitamins D supplement to your existing regimen.
The important thing to consider with a nutrient such as Vitamin E is that the majority of multivitamin supplements will contain some amount, not to mention the tocopherol content of some of the food sources that will be exploring in a moment.
With this in mind you may wish to consider simply investing in a multivitamin supplement rather than a standalone Vitamin E supplement.
If you would like to know more about multivitamin supplements for men and women then be sure to check out some of our supplement reviews, as well as our Top 10 multivitamin rankings.
Do Any Foods Contain Vitamin E? Which Ones are the best?
The richest sources of Vitamin E include food such as:
- Wheat germ oil;
- Sweet potato;
- Sunflower, safflower, and Palm oils;
- Nuts, especially almonds and hazelnuts; and
There are also plenty of other food sources of Vitamin E such as avocados, broccoli, kiwifruit, asparagus, and mangoes; however, these items are generally considered to be negligible sources of Vitamin E.
In terms of what the “best” sources of Vitamin E are, that is really going to depend on factors such as your budget, regional availability of foods, and of course your personal dietary preferences.
For example, if an item such as wheat germ oil is not available to you at an affordable price then there is absolutely nothing wrong with resorting to slightly less rich sources of Vitamin E such as nuts or sunflower oil.
Generally speaking, red and orange fruits and vegetables such as sweet potato, carrot, and pumpkin will always contain some amount of tocopherol, which is where their color comes from.
Does Vitamin E Have any Side Effects?
According to the National Institutes of Health, a consistent daily intake of Vitamin E exceeding 1000 mg or 1500 IU can lead to a condition known as hypervitaminosis E, which can cause a subsequent deficiency of Vitamin K.
In high levels such as this, Vitamin E can act as an anticoagulant, causing bleeding and preventing the formation of blood platelets and the healing of wounds.
While there are some potential health benefits to be gained from supplementing with vitamin E it is important that you do not take it lightly and instead exercise caution by starting with a low dose and not using it consistently on a long-term basis.
As with any dietary supplement, we recommend that women who are pregnant or breastfeeding consult their doctor or physician prior to use. This also applies to people under the age of 18 and individuals who suffer from pre-existing medical conditions or who are taking any kind of prescription medication.
Is Vitamin E Supplementation Dangerous?
While excessive use of Vitamin E in high doses can potentially increase risk factors associated with various health conditions, this is just as true of many other supplements that you can purchase.
Be responsible with your use of any supplement and you will be going a long way to avoiding any potential harmful effects.
Note: We recommend speaking to a doctor before taking any supplements.
How and When Should I Use a Vitamin E Supplement?
There has been a fairly significant body of research conducted on the potential health benefits of supplementing with Vitamin E.
Unfortunately the research that has been published so far suggests little, if any benefit to otherwise healthy adults.
Vitamin E has been studied in the context of everything from prostate enlargement to macular degeneration, diabetes, and even overall mortality in adults.
Subsequent data from this research suggests that Vitamin E does nothing to prevent or reduce any of these factors, and in some cases may actually increase risks if taken at high doses.
With this said, it is probably advisable that you simply resort to using a multivitamin supplement to ensure that you do not exceed the tolerable upper limit of Vitamin E. This will also be a far more cost-effective way of sourcing your vitamins rather than purchasing them as stand-alone supplements.
Either way, ensure that you always refer to the manufacturer’s guidelines provided on the packaging of any supplement you purchase.
Do I Really Need to Take Vitamin E?
Vitamin E isn’t particularly difficult to source in adequate quantities through dietary sources, and the vast majority of bodybuilders and athletes are already eating copious amounts of healthy foods such as sweet potatoes and nuts anyway. So you’re probably already consuming plenty of Vitamin E.
A multivitamin supplement is almost definitely going to be the best route to take if you would like to add more Vitamin E to your diet.
It is also worth bearing in mind that most of us do not have unlimited resources when it comes to budgeting for supplements.
Your money will probably be far better spent on products that will actually improve your health or your performance in the gym, such as a decent pre-workout supplement, creatine, and of course a high-quality whey protein powder.
We provide detailed reviews and Top 10 rankings for all of these supplements so if you are a little unsure about which products to buy then you will find more than enough information to make an informed decision and ensure that you get the best value for money.
How Much Vitamin E Should I Use?
Again, read the usage instructions on the packaging of any supplement that you buy, whether that is a stand-alone Vitamin E product or a multivitamin supplement.
Related: Best Antioxidant Supplements
Choosing the Right Vitamin E Supplement
With everything that has been discussed so far you should have a general idea of whether or not Vitamin E supplementation is relevant to your personal needs.
It appears as if the best way to source your Vitamin E is through dietary sources such as nuts, and vegetables such as sweet potato and pumpkin.
If you do really want to add a supplemental source of Vitamin E to your diet then it is probably most advisable for you to do so by means of a multivitamin, in which case you should be sure to take a look at our Top 10 men’s and women’s multivitamin supplement rankings.
Please note: This FAQ has not been written or reviewed by a doctor or medical professional and is therefore not to be used to prevent, diagnose, or treat any disease or illness. Nor should it be used as medical reference.