The Pros and Cons of Taking a Vitamin E Supplement

The term "vitamin E" refers to a family of 8 antioxidants, 4 tocotrienols and 4 tocopherols. Vitamin E belongs to the group of fat-soluble vitamins. It protects important fatty acids and vitamin A from oxidation inside the body cells and averts destruction of body tissues. We've since learned that taking vitamin supplements is a good thing. As it enhances the amount of vitamins we take each day. Learn more about vitamin E sources and find out what a vitamin E supplement is.

According to the latest surveys of the Department of Agriculture of the United States, the vitamin E intake by women between 20 and 50 years old averaged less than ninety percent of the recommended daily quota. The intakes of men of the same age were close to 100% of the recommended daily allowance. As a matter of fact, the recommended daily allowance is an absolute minimum prerequisite, below which the human body is actually in deficit. Also, we should keep in mind that vitamin E can get "boiled out" of foods during cooking, preparation, or storage.


Human bodies do not actually manufacture any amount of vitamin E. We need to get vitamin E for ourselves either from food or from some vitamin E supplement. The recent studies also recommend us to take much higher quantities of vitamin E than the suggested daily quota to get its complete benefits. Since vitamin E is fat-soluble, it is commonly found in fat-rich fare.

We can get vitamin E from four main groups:

1) Nuts - almonds, peanuts, walnuts, hazelnuts and pistachios.

2) Vegetable oils - corn, sunflower, canola, sesame, peanut, cottonseed, rice bran and palm oils.

3) Oil seeds, grains and legumes. Corn, wheat, lentils, rice, chickpeas, northern beans, Barley Grass and oats.

4) Wheat germ oil. Extracted from the wheat germ, this oil has been employed since the 1920s as a vitamin E supplement. Wheat germ oil offers a good mixture of tocotrienols plus tocopherols.

Food is a good way to obtain natural vitamin E, the full family of compounds. We can meet the recommended daily allowance without difficulty if you add nuts, grains and legumes in our diet and use moderate amounts of vegetable oils. Wheat germ and wheat germ oil are great sources of natural Vitamin E for those who don't want to take a vitamin E supplement.

If conversely, you wish to take a vitamin E supplement, then the question comes up: how do I have to choose the correct vitamin E product?

What makes up 8 different compounds of the vitamin E family: 4 tocotrienols and 4 tocopherols. Our food has all eight compounds. But not so for most vitamin E supplements whether it is vitamin E oil or dry vitamin E. The average vitamin E supplement contains only alpha-tocopherol. The most excellent vitamin E products include all 8 elements of the vitamin E family - tocotrienols plus tocopherols - in their natural form.

The main difference between natural form of vitamin E and its synthetic form is availability. Natural vitamin E has approximately twice the availability of synthetic form of vitamin E.

Most vitamins today are created synthetically. A large amount of the vitamins used to produce nutritional supplements (capsules, tablets, etc.) are synthetic. Same can be said about the vitamins used to reinforce our milk, cereals, and other foods. Is there any problem with that? For most groups of vitamins the answer is no. The synthetic molecules look and behave just the same as the ones in our food. Not so, however, for alpha-tocopherol. Synthetic alpha-tocopherol is safe but its value to human body is only one half of the natural.

In the meantime, due to a lack of adequate evidence, vitamin E supplements have not been officially recommended by national scientific bodies. If you decide to take a vitamin E supplement, don't forget to notify your health care provider.

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