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What you need to know about Vitamin E

 

You may have heard that vitamin E protects against cancer and heart disease. Are you concerned you’re not getting enough or that you need a supplement? Read on for the truth about your vitamin E needs.

 

What can vitamin E do for me?

Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant whose main job in the body is to protect against cell damage. Vitamin E may also play a role in maintaining a healthy immune system and protecting against chronic diseases, such as heart disease and cancer.

 

How much do I need?

Age

Vitamin E needs (mg/day)

Don’t exceed (mg/day)

19 years and older

15

1000

Pregnancy

15

1000

Lactation (breastfeeding)

15

1000

 

Food sources of vitamin E

Vitamin E is found mainly in foods that contain fat.  Some examples are nuts, seeds, avocado, vegetable oils and wheat germ.  Some dark leafy greens and fish are also sources of vitamin E. Use the following table to help you choose foods with vitamin E.

 

Food

Serving size

Vitamin E (mg)

Toasted almonds

60 mL (1/4 cup)

18

Roasted sunflower seeds

60 mL (1/4 cup)

10-12

Almond butter

30 mL (2 tbsp)

8

Wheat germ oil

5 mL    (1 tsp)

7

Wheat germ

30 g      (1/4 cup)

5

Avocado

100 g    (1/2 a fruit)

4

Peanuts

60 mL   (1/4 cup)

3

Peanut butter

30 mL   (2 tbsp)

3

Sunflower oil

5 mL     (1 tsp)

3

Canned tomato sauce

125 ml   (1/2 cup)

3

Cooked spinach

125 ml   (1/2 cup)

2-4

Cooked Swiss chard

125 ml   (1/2 cup)

2

White tuna, canned in oil

75 g       (2.5 oz)

2

Sockeye salmon

75 g       (2.5 oz)

2

 

 

Do I need to take a vitamin E supplement?

No. Most people can get enough vitamin E through their food choices. Vitamin E is a fat soluble vitamin, which means that our bodies can store the vitamin in our liver to use for days when we might get less vitamin E than usual.  People who may have trouble getting enough vitamin E are those who are on very low-fat diets or who have health conditions that make it difficult to absorb fat.

As long as you eat a variety of antioxidant rich foods such as vegetables, fruit, whole grains and moderate amounts of unsaturated fats from vegetable oils, fish, nuts and seeds, you should be able to get a healthy amount of vitamin E each day.

 

Can taking a vitamin E supplement help prevent cancer or heart disease?

No. It is not recommended that you take a vitamin E supplement to help prevent chronic diseases like heart disease or cancer. In fact, some research has shown that in certain individuals (such as those who have had heart disease, cancer or diabetes), high doses of vitamin E supplements can actually cause harm. More research is needed to determine how vitamin E supplements can affect the risk of chronic disease.  Always speak with your doctor before starting a vitamin E supplement.

The amount of vitamin E found in a multivitamin is considered safe and appropriate for healthy individuals.

 

Meal and Snack Ideas

  1. Skip the mayo and add sliced avocado to your turkey or ham sandwich for lunch.
  2. For an after-school snack, the kids will love apple or pear slices with almond butter for dipping.
  3. Keep a small portion (1/4 cup) of almonds or sunflower seeds at your desk to prevent visits to the vending machine.
  4. Add wheat germ to smoothies, hot cereal and baked goods.
  5. Get your dark green vegetable for the day by adding cooked spinach to soups, pastas, casseroles, eggs and stews. Other greens like Swiss chard, chicory and dandelion will work well too.

Recipes

Lightened Up Guacamole and Chips

Tea Poached Salmon with Fruit Salsa

Breakfast Cookie, Heart and Stroke Foundation

Swiss Chard Frittata in a Pita, Dietitians of Canada

 

For more information on nutrients:

What you need to know about Vitamin C

Vitamin D

Vitamin A

Selenium

Vitamin and Minerals FAQs

Copyright © Dietitians of Canada 2014. All rights reserved.

Dietitians of Canada acknowledges the financial support of EatRight Ontario by the Ontario government. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the Province.