What Does Vitamin E Do?

3 Vitamin E Benefits You Need to Know

What does vitamin E do? In fact, what is it? Vitamin E is one member of a family of eight antioxidants comprised of four tocopherols (one of which is alpha-tocopherol) and four tocotrienols.

Main Components of Vitamin E

Whew! If you are like most, your head is reeling and you are wondering just what all this terminology really means. Tocopherols are fat soluble compounds that contain vitamin E and occur naturally in the body and in foods like wheat germ or egg yolks.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, “tocotrienols are any of several compounds that are similar to the tocopherols but in which the isoprenoid units of the side chain are unsaturated.”

What does vitamin E Do?

Why Do I Need More Vitamin E

Here’s the plain English version: Alpha-tocopherol is the form of vitamin E that occurs most often in the human body and has the greatest nutritional significance for humans. However, the Linus Pauling Institute reports that only about 10 percent of individuals in the US meet their daily requirement for alpha-tocopherol (vitamin E) by eating the right kinds of food. Most would benefit from a dietary supplement in an amount appropriate for their age and health. Let’s talk about the benefits of taking vitamin E in dietary or supplemental form.

What Does Vitamin E Do for Your Health

Vitamin E’s strong antioxidant properties protect cells by neutralizing free radicals, which can damage the DNA of the cells and accelerate aging.

Three other major health benefits of vitamin E are:

  1. Lowers risk of heart disease: According to Oregon State University, at least five credible studies showed a decrease of cardiovascular disease in individuals who increased their vitamin E intake. In addition to helping prevent cardiovascular disease in the first place, vitamin E supplementation could be a vital part of an overall heart health treatment program. Additionally, individuals with diabetes might benefit from vitamin E supplementation as a precaution against cardiovascular disease and to protect eye health, but UMMC recommends diabetics consult with their personal health care provider prior to its use.
  2. Protects eye health: Oregon State University also stated that while results were mixed, there appears to be a relation between higher vitamin E levels and eye health as it relates to the formation of cataracts. The University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC) noted that vitamin E appears to lower the risk of developing macular degeneration.
  3. Vitamin E benefits for the elderly: While more research trials are needed for definitive results, early reports indicate that increasing the vitamin E levels in seniors leads to improved function of the immune system. Elderly people, who are at higher risk from respiratory diseases like influenza or the flu, could increase their resistance by including more vitamin E rich foods in their diet or taking a dietary supplement of vitamin E regularly.

What about cancer? Isn’t vitamin E cancer protective? According to UMMC, neither population nor clinical studies have provided sufficient documentation of the purported cancer protective properties of vitamin E.

Examples of Vitamin E Foods

What kinds of foods is vitamin E in? Some of the richest sources are:


  • Canola oil
  • Corn oil
  • Olive oil
  • Safflower oil
  • Soybean oil
  • Sunflower oil


  • Almonds
  • Hazelnuts
  • Peanuts
  • Walnuts

Vegetables and Fruits

  • Avocado
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Beet greens
  • Mustard greens
  • Turnip greens
  • Collard greens

Benefits and Risks of Taking Vitamin E

So , what does all this mean to you? If you fall into that 90 percent range of those who aren’t meeting the required daily allowance for this essential fat soluble vitamin, you will probably benefit from taking vitamin E supplements, including more vitamin E rich foods in your daily diet or a combination of both. On the downside, because vitamin E is fat soluble, not water soluble, it accumulates in the body and can build to toxic levels.

For that reason, even though you might stand to benefit from adding more vitamin E to your health maintenance regime, your health care professional is the best source of information and advice as to how much vitamin E you need and how you should get it. You may want to schedule a consultation soon to determine if taking daily supplements of vitamin E or adding more vitamin E rich foods to your diet is a good idea.

Disclaimer: This information is offered for educational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for medical advice from a qualified professional.

Image Free Digital Photos.net