Vitamin E is an important nutrient that helps our bodies function at their best. It is fat-soluble, which means it can be stored in the body – making it more difficult to excrete when recommended levels are met.
Naturally occurring vitamin E (tocopherol) exists in eight chemical forms (alpha [α]-, beta-, gamma- and delta-tocopherol, and alpha-, beta-, gamma- and delta-tocotrienol). Stored in the liver, α-tocopherol is incorporated into lipoproteins – a group of soluble proteins that combine with and transport fat in the blood to body tissues.
Why do we need vitamin E?
α-tocopherol has an extremely important role in the body, as it acts as an antioxidant, preventing the formation of tissue-damaging free radicals in cells and lipoproteins.
Vitamin E benefits include:
How much vitamin E do we need?
You should be able to get all the vitamin E you need from a balanced and varied diet.
Can we have too much vitamin E?
Some studies show that large doses of vitamin E may inhibit vitamin K, and therefore interfere with blood coagulation. In addition, use of vitamin E supplements may also increase the risk of bleeding in individuals taking blood thinners such as heparin and warfarin, antiplatelet drugs such as clopidogrel or other medications including aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen.
Speak to your GP if you are concerned about nutritional deficiencies or considering taking supplements.
Which foods are good sources of vitamin E?
Rich sources of vitamin E include:
- High-fat foods such as safflower oil, margarine and wheat germ
- Nuts, nut butters and seeds
- Swiss chard
- Fortified cereals
Recipes high in vitamin E
Swiss chard & kohlrabi with lemon sauce
Broccoli with a crunch
Tuna, avocado & quinoa salad
Ginger, sesame and chilli prawn & broccoli stir-fry
Grilled herrings with mustard & basil dressing
Herring & beetroot salad
Bircher muesli with apple & banana
More on vitamins and minerals
This content was updated on 19th October 2023.
Emer Delaney BSc (Hons), RD has an honours degree in Human Nutrition and Dietetics from the University of Ulster. She has worked as a dietitian in some of London’s top teaching hospitals and is currently based in Chelsea.
All health content on bbcgoodfood.com is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional. If you have any concerns about your general health, you should contact your local health care provider. See our website terms and conditions for more information.