What is vitamin E for? Why does my body need vitamin E? Should I be worried about vitamin E deficiency?
We’ve got these answers + we dive deep into the difference between vitamin E from food VS vitamin E that’s been synthetically isolated and made in a lab.
What is vitamin E?
Vitamin E is a group of fat soluble nutrients, not just one single vitamin. Just like B vitamins!
There are 8 naturally occuring varieties of vitamin E. These are the alpha, beta, gamma and delta variations of tocopherol and tocotrienol.1 The best dietary sources of vitamin E are found in vegetable oils, because they contain the two major classes of the vitamin; tocopherol and tocotrienol.1 4 different strains of vitamin E (Alpha-tocopherol, G-tocopherol, D-tocopherol and A-tocotrienol) are present in coconut oil, sunflower oil and peanut oil! 2 of the 4 are found in olive oil.1
What is vitamin e for?
Vitamin E acts as an antioxidant in the body by protecting cells from harmful free radicals.2 Vitamin E also helps widen blood vessels to prevent clots, boosts the immune system and cells use vitamin E to interact and work with each other.2
Additionally, both the tocopherol and tocotrienol strains of vitamin E have shown to improve metabolic irregularities.3 If you’ve read our Metabolism eBook, you know how crucial a healthy metabolism is to one’s overall well being. One way to keep your metabolism healthy is by eating foods that are naturally rich in vitamin E. And lastly, this group of fat soluble vitamins has been used in dermatology for over 50 years!10 They can protect the skin form radiation and free radicals, which both can cause various skin and health issues.10
Vitamin E rich foods
Annatto seeds from an annatto tree contain the highest amounts of natural vitamin E in the tocotrienol strain, out of any other foods.4 Annatto is native to tropical regions in South America and has been widely used by the people native to that region for healing wounds, relieve heat stroke, heal snake bites and help with headaches.5 Additionally annatto has a very potent red colour that historically has been used for food and textile dyes.5 We use organic annatto seeds in our multivitamin powder; PureFood A to Z and Smoothie Boosters as a whole food source for vitamin E.
Vitamin E can also be found in nuts, seeds, leafy greens and as mentioned above; various vegetable oils.1
Vitamin E deficiency
This particular deficiency is rare among people of good health because vitamin E is a fat soluble vitamin. This means it is stored in the body, as opposed to water soluble vitamins like B vitamins, which you must replenish daily.9
Even though it’s not among the most common nutritional deficiencies, that doesn’t mean it should be forgotten about! Deficiency in E vitamins can cause nerve and muscle damage, and has a strong connection to diseases that hinder the absorption or storage of fat.2 These diseases include: Crohn’s disease and cystic fibrosis.2 Additionally, Vitamin E deficiency can cause anemia.6 This is because absence of vitamin E can damage red blood cells and hold back your immune system from performing optimally.1
Careful, not all forms of vitamins are the same
Vitamin E that comes from natural, unprocessed foods is listed as ”d-alpha-tocopherol” or just Vitamin E on food packaging and supplement labels.2 Synthetically derived vitamin E made in a lab, is listed as ”dl-alpha-tocopherol.” As you can see, there’s only a one letter difference- ‘l’ to differentiate these two! Break out the reading glasses.
Synthetic vitamin E could be added to foods during a fortification process. The natural form of vitamin E is much more powerful.2 For example, 100 IU of natural vitamin E from food is equal to about 150 IU of the synthetic form.2
Because vitamin E is a complex group of fat soluble vitamins that act as antioxidants in the body, they cannot be mimicked as one singular man made vitamin. That’s why mother nature knows best. Want to learn more about how to decode vitamin supplement labels? Read our Vitamin Shopping Guide.
Vitamins from food, what a concept!
Vitamins from food are the most natural way for your body to absorb and store nutrients it needs to carry out its daily functions. As stated above, we know it’s impossible to recreate the complexity of vitamins and minerals that Mother Nature has provided us with. Not only that but studies show nutrients from food absorb 200-1500 times better than those from synthetically derived supplements.7,8
We know food is grown much differently nowadays when compared to previous time periods. Fast farming has lead to less nutritious crops and organic food is not always accessible depending on where you live. Our advice is to take an ALL food nutritional supplement and to eat organic as much as you can. Our nutritional booster powders only contain nutrient dense, organic, fruits, veggies and super-foods. This makes the vitamins and minerals easy for your body to use. And did we mention there’s over 20 organic fruits and veggies in every serving of PureFood A to Z? Elevate your nutrition and get your vitamins from food.
4 Aggarwal, B. B., Sundaram, C., Prasad, S., and Kannappan, R. (2010). Tocotrienols, the vitamin E of the 21st century: its potential against cancer and other chronic diseases. Biochem. Pharmacol. 80, 1613–1631. doi: 10.1016/j.bcp.2010.07.043
7 Vinson JA, Bose P. Bioavailability of Synthetic Ascorbic Acid and a Citrus Extract. Ann New York Academy of Sciences, 1987;498:525-526
8 Vinson JA. Human Supplementation with Different Forms of Vitamin C. University of Scranton, Scranton (PA)