Vitamin E is very valuable for health as an antioxidant. Antioxidants protect against free radicals, which damage cells and promote chronic diseases. Moreover, the vitamin is anti-inflammatory and important for the immune system.
In addition, vitamin E is needed for muscle maintenance and red blood cell formation. It can also help prevent atherosclerosis, diabetes mellitus type II, Alzheimer's, and cancer.
Are vegans deficient in Vitamin E?
Many plant foods contain the vitamin, so vegans are generally well supplied with it. Overall, vitamin E deficiencies are rare and usually occur as a result of other diseases or problems with absorption.
How much Vitamin E should you consume daily?
The European Union recommends that women over the age of 15 take in 11 mg and men 13 mg a day. In the US, a daily intake of 15 mg is recommended for both men and women.
Moreover, pregnant and breastfeeding women, as well as smokers and patients undergoing chemotherapy, have an increased need.
People who consume a lot of unsaturated fatty acids might also benefit from a higher intake. The majority of ingested fats on a whole-foods vegan diet are unsaturated. Therefore, it may be beneficial for vegans to consume more than the above-stated amount of vitamin E.
Unfortunately, dietary associations don't provide specific recommendations concerning this topic. Thus, it's best to contact an (ideally plant-based) doctor if you have any questions or want more specific recommendations.
What are good plant sources of vitamin E?
The best sources are sunflower seeds, spinach, almonds, hazelnuts, and Swiss chard.
However, asparagus, beans, tomatoes, Brussels sprouts, fennel, carrots, oatmeal, corn, rye, kale, mango, and chickpeas are also good sources.
Often, vegetable oils, such as sunflower oil, soybean oil, or rapeseed oil, are recommended as a vitamin E source. However, oils are usually not a part of a whole-foods vegan diet. (You can read more about the reasons for this here.) Still, even without consuming vegetable oils, vegans can get adequate Vitamin E.
How can you increase Vitamin E absorption?
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin and, therefore, better absorbed with high-fat meals. You can promote uptake of the vitamin, f.e. by adding some nuts or seeds to your dish.
Do animal products contain vitamin E?
Only plants and certain bacteria produce vitamin E. Nevertheless, animal foods such as milk, eggs, and meat contain the vitamin because the animals receive plants as food.
How can vegans meet the vitamin E requirement?
Vitamin E is abundant in plants. Therefore, meeting the need on a whole-foods vegan diet tends to be simple.
To support a good supply, you should regularly incorporate vitamin E rich foods into your diet, ideally in combination with a healthy source of fat.
in the dark, well-sealed, and avoid excessive heat when cooking.
How dangerous is a vitamin E deficiency, and what are the symptoms?
A vitamin E deficiency can weaken the immune system and lead to a breakdown of red blood cells. Moreover, if you don't get enough of the vitamin, you benefit less from its protective antioxidative function.
Symptoms of a vitamin E deficiency can be:
- Increased susceptibility to infection
- Blurred vision
- Muscle weakness
- Liver and kidney problems
How can you check if you are getting enough Vitamin E?
If you or your doctor suspect a deficiency, you can test for it with a blood test. Depending on the laboratory, the reference values are between 5.5 and 17 mg / l.
Is it harmful to take in too much vitamin E?
Vitamin E is non-toxic, even in very high doses. Nevertheless, if you consume too much for a prolonged time, you may experience gastrointestinal problems, headaches, nausea, and an increased risk of bleeding.
Moreover, taking Vitamin E supplements may be harmful to health and increase mortality.
Everything you need to know at a glance
Vitamin E is widely available in plants, and deficiencies are rare. To support adequate intake, you can do the following:
- Regularly add vitamin E rich foods to your meals.
- The best sources of vitamin E are sunflower seeds, spinach, almonds, hazelnuts, and Swiss chard.
- Keep Vitamin E rich foods protected from light and well-sealed.
- Add a healthy source of fat (nuts, seeds, avocados, etc.) to meals to promote the absorption of vitamin E.
- Moreover, If you suspect a deficiency, talk to your doctor about it and, if necessary, check your supply with a blood test.