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A Need-To-Know Guide to Vitamin E


Vitamin C isn’t the only antioxidant that matters.

photo of vitamin E efficient things

Quick, name a vitamin that’s an antioxidant. While your mind probably jumped straight to vitamin C, there’s another one that’s pretty important to staying healthy: vitamin E. It’s found in lots of beauty products for its free-radical-fighting properties (more on that below), and it does a whole lot more, too. Here’s a little more about why this unsung vitamin hero is so important—and how to make sure you’re getting enough of it.

The Role of Vitamin E

As an antioxidant, vitamin E works to keep free radicals from damaging cells. Free radicals are molecules that can harm cells and may play a role in cancer and other diseases; they’re normally made as the body converts food to energy, but they also come from things like cigarette smoke, air pollution, and UV rays. Antioxidants like vitamin E neutralize free radicals, and some types of vitamin E (there are eight forms of the vitamin in total) helps to stop the production of new free radicals altogether. Vitamin E also supports the immune system and keeps blood from clotting within blood vessels, which means better heart health. Some research also shows that vitamin E, along with vitamin C, zinc, copper, lutein, and zeaxanthin, may help reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration, an eye disease that causes vision loss.

How Much You Really Need

It’s recommended that adults get 15 milligrams of vitamin E every day. That number goes up to 19 milligrams if you’re breastfeeding and goes down if you’re younger than 14. But it’s important to remember that when it comes to vitamin E intake, more is not always better, so pay attention to how much vitamin E you’re getting, and stick to the recommended daily allowance of 15 milligrams per day. You’ll also want to talk to your doctor if you want to start taking vitamin E—or any supplements—to make sure it won’t interact or interfere with medications or treatments you’re already on.

Are You Getting Enough?

While it’s rare to have a vitamin E deficiency, most adults aren’t getting the recommended amount of vitamin E from their diets. How do you get more of it? Vitamin E is naturally found fatty foods, especially nuts and seeds, like sunflower seeds, almonds, and hazelnuts. For example, half a cup of sunflower seeds has about 24 milligrams of vitamin E and a quarter cup of almonds has 10 milligrams. Green vegetables like broccoli and spinach have some vitamin E, too, as do avocado and some vegetable oils like sunflower oil and safflower oil. Vitamin E is also usually found in fortified cereals and beverages—a quick scan of the nutritional label will tell you whether or not it’s there. And if you’re still not getting enough vitamin E, you can get more vitamin E with a daily multivitamin like Centrum.

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