Fact Sheet

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is a fat soluble vitamin that has anti-oxidant properties- it helps protect fatty cell membranes from becoming oxidized from free radicals. Vitamin E has been dubbed the 'vitamin in search of a deficiency disease'. Although deficiency symptoms are rare, recent research has shown that higher intake of vitamin E is associated with protection against diseases associated with ageing- ie cancer and heart disease. Vitamin E supplementation has been suggested as a stimulant for the immune system(1).

Vitamin E is also commonly used as a supplement to improve dry skin. Although there is no definite basis for its use in skin care, anecdotal reports do indicate it may be of benefit. Vitamin E is a constituent of many beauty creams that are applied to the face.

Vitamin E is measured as mg or international units (1 mg = 1.49 i.u).


Deficiency of vitamin E in the diet has no defined disease but chronic deficiency has been implicated as a contributor to cancer and heart disease.


The recommended daily allowance of Vitamin E is 10mg per day but the upper safe level for daily supplementation = 800mg (1200i.u.). Together with Vitamins C and A they are known as the'anti-oxidant group'. The combination is also important for prevention of respiratory ailments and asthma.

Vitamin E supplements may help with a range of conditions:

Sources of Vitamin E

The main sources of vitamin E in the diet are wheat-germ oil, wheatgerm, almonds and oil seeds.

Foods and vitamin E content:

Food Quantity (mg/100g)
Wheatgerm oil 178
Safflower oil 97
Sunfower seeds raw 74
Sunflower oil 73
Almonds 37
Mayonnaise 19
Wheatgerm 17
Margarine, hard 16
Peanut butter 9
Soybean oil 8
Butter 3
Asparagus 2.7
Spinach 2.7
Broccoli 0.7


1. "Human Nutrition and Dietetics", J S Garrow & W P T James, Churchill Livingstone, 1996.
2. Kwiterovich PO Jr. The effect of dietary fat, Antioxidants, and pro-oxidants on blood lipids, lipoproteins, and Atherosclerosis. J Am Diet Assoc, 97;7 suppl:S31-41, 1997.
3. "Martindale The Extra Pharmacopoeia", J Reynolds, The Pharmaceutical Press, 29th Ed, 1989.
4. London RS et al. Endocrine parameters and alpha-tocopherol therapy of patients with mammary dysplasia. Caner Res, 41:3811-3813, 1981.
5. Renaud S et al. Influence of vitamin E administration on platelet functions in hormonal contraceptive users. Contraception, 36:347-358, 1987.
6. London RS et al. Efficacy of alpha-tocopherol in the treatment of the premenstrual syndrome. J Reprod Med, 32;6:400-404, 1987.
7. Int J Dermatol, 1995,34;7:506-509.
8. Sano et al. A controlled clinical trial of Selegiline, Alpha-tocopherol or both as treatment for Alzheimer's Disease. New England J Med, 336;17:1216-1222, 1997.

You are visitor number