The body uses vitamin E for a wide variety of different functions. It is a powerful antioxidant, which means that it can reduce damage that naturally occurs to your cells as a result of exposure to free radicals. Free radicals are chemicals found in the atmosphere that damage the DNA in your cells. This contributes to the aging process and can also lead to the onset of cancer. Antioxidants, such as vitamin E, can help to prevent this damage from occurring, reducing the visible signs of aging and your risk of cancer.
It should be easy to obtain enough vitamin E from your diet, as it is found in a wide variety of foods. If you are concerned that your vitamin E intake is too low, then think about cooking with plant oils rather than butter, as these contain high levels of the chemical. Nuts, seeds, and cereals are also good sources. It is recommended that women have 3mg/day and men have 4mg/day, on average. However, as excess vitamin E will be stored in your body (it is fat-soluble), you don’t need to worry about meeting the requirements every day.
Vitamin E deficiency is extremely rare, and will normally only be seen in those with genetic disorders that lead to low levels of the substance. It may also occur in premature babies if they have a very low birth weight, but the vast majority of children and adults are highly unlikely to experience a deficiency of this vitamin.
It is thought that vitamin E may play a role in delaying the onset of conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease. Patients taking a regular dose of vitamin e seem to experience less memory loss than those not taking it. However, it does not appear to prevent the onset of the disease. Conditions of the eyes can also be improved by taking a regular dose of vitamin E, including macular degeneration and an increased rate of healing after surgery has been performed.
Vitamin E is found in a wide variety of foods, so the requirements can easily be met in the diet. Foods that you may want to consider eating include:
• Nuts and seeds
• Wholegrain cereals
It is recommended that you obtain vitamin E from foods, rather than by taking a regular supplement.