Almost all of us don’t get enough of an essential vitamin that supports vision, brain health, and even fetal development – vitamin E.
The astonishing statistic: About 90% of American adults’ diets contain insufficient amounts of vitamin E, studies have shown.
Zoom in: The main function of vitamin E is as an antioxidant. It quietly protects our cells from the oxidative damage caused by chemicals formed naturally when we convert food into energy.
- The consequences of oxidative damage – not controlled by vitamin E – include accelerated aging, deterioration of vision and a higher risk of diseases such as cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.
- “Vitamin E is kind of like having a firefighter,” says Maret Traber, a nutritionist at the Linus Pauling Institute in the state of Oregon. “You only need it when your house is on fire.”
Vitamin E is also important during pregnancy, says Traber.
- It is critical to the development of a baby’s nervous system, including the brain and spinal cord.
- One study found that pregnant women with low vitamin E levels were almost twice as likely to miscarry.
Here are our tips, from nutritionists, on how to include this crucial vitamin in your diet.
1. How Much To Take: The recommended daily amount is 15 milligrams. Breastfeeding women need a little more, 19 milligrams a day, notes the Harvard School of Public Health.
2. What To Eat: Vitamin E is found in nuts, seeds and vegetable oils, but also in dark green. Think almonds and sunflower seeds; canola and sunflower oil; and kale, spinach, and collard greens.
3. How To Supplement: If the foods listed above are not an important part of your diet, consider supplementing. There are many ways to take vitamin E, including pills or oils, although the oils have a shorter shelf life, Traber says. You can also take multivitamins that contain vitamin E. Note: it is best to take your supplements with a meal.
- Multivitamins tend to have a lower vitamin E content than single pills or oils, so make sure you’re getting the right amount. Healthline has a comprehensive list of vitamin E supplements.
4. Worth Noting: There are prenatal vitamins on the market that do not contain vitamin E. Look for a brand that: is doingto keep you and your baby healthy, Traber tells us.
And here’s what to look out for:
- It is possible to take too much. Vitamin E can be toxic in very high concentrations, so the daily limit is about 1,000 milligrams.
- Consult your doctor. Vitamin E supplements can have negative interactions with treatments and medications, including chemotherapy and anticoagulants, Healthline notes.
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