Doctors advise young people not to take their health for granted. In recent years, the age of stroke patients in Taiwan has been decreasing. To reduce the risk of serious cardiovascular diseases such as myocardial infarction, you can start with daily habits like adjusting your lifestyle, eating more fruits and vegetables, quitting smoking and drinking. You can also maintain your health by taking sufficient and safe health supplements to stay away from risk factors for cardiovascular diseases.
What is Vitamin E?
Vitamin E is a category of structurally similar molecules, with the basic unit consisting of chromanols and side chains. They are named differently based on the chromanol ring and side chain’s specific groups attached. The most common molecules include eight types, four tocopherols (α, β, γ, and δ) and four tocotrienols (α, β, γ, and δ). Less common variants include tocomonoenols, tocodienols, and marine-derived tocopherols. 
7 Benefits of Vitamin E
Vitamin E’s physiological functions can be broadly categorized into antioxidant and non-antioxidant-related functions:
Free radicals are crucial substances in the body with both beneficial and harmful roles. In addition to aiding the immune system in resisting foreign invaders, they also participate in the body’s metabolic processes. One well-known free radical, nitric oxide (NO), is an indispensable neurotransmitter. Free radicals have various sources, including external and internal factors.
They are generated in the body’s metabolic processes, produced during mitochondrial activity, and induced during detoxification.
External sources of free radicals include radiation, smoking, and the oxidation of unsaturated fatty acids, leading to chain reactions.
Excessive production of free radicals increases oxidative stress in the body, ultimately resulting in the development of diseases.
Diseases associated with free radicals include cardiovascular diseases, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and even cancer.
Supplementation with antioxidant nutrients can capture free radicals and inhibit chain reactions, reducing the occurrence of diseases. Thus, maintaining a balance of free radicals in the body is crucial.
- Cardiovascular Diseases: In a 2015 review article that analyzed 16 studies, the effect of Vitamin E supplementation alone or in combination with other antioxidants on cardiovascular diseases was examined. The results showed that the use of Vitamin E alone (in doses ranging from 33-800 IU) significantly reduced the incidence of myocardial infarction. .
- Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease: A study compared the effects of the clinical drug Pioglitazone (an anti-diabetic drug used for the treatment of liver fat accumulation and liver inflammation symptoms), Vitamin E, and a placebo on patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Among them, Vitamin E (800 IU/day) showed the most significant improvement in patient symptoms (reduced liver index, liver inflammation, and liver fat degeneration). .
- Age-Related Vision Diseases: Epidemiological studies have found a negative correlation between Vitamin E supplementation and plasma Vitamin E concentration with age-related cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. . Another study found that the supplementation of Vitamin E, combined with Vitamins B1 and B2, helped improve lens opacity. .
- Cancer: The benefits of Vitamin E in cancer may be attributed to its ability to control the cell cycle, induce cell apoptosis, stimulate autophagy, inhibit metastasis, and suppress angiogenesis. . Clinical studies have found that Vitamin E supplementation can reduce the incidence of lung cancer, pancreatic cancer, and more.  .
- Blood Sugar Control: Research has found that antioxidant supplementation (Vitamin E) can delay the progression of type 2 diabetes. . A retrospective article in 2018 reaffirmed that Vitamin E supplementation not only enhances antioxidant capacity but also helps control diabetes-related complications. .
- Neurodegenerative Diseases: The concentration of Vitamin E in the blood plasma can predict the severity of cognitive impairment in Alzheimer’s disease. Vitamin E supplementation can help slow the progression of moderate to severe Alzheimer’s disease. Additionally, for patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease, Vitamin E supplementation was found to slow the decline in activities of daily living, reducing the need for caregiving resources.   .
- Immune Regulation: Vitamin E can regulate the immune system by inhibiting the activity of Cyclooxygenase-2 (COX2) enzyme, reducing the production of the pro-inflammatory factor prostaglandin E-2 (PGE-2), enhancing T-cell activation pathways, and balancing helper T-cell Th1/Th2. Vitamin E supplementation helps prevent complications caused by pneumonia, reducing mortality and the frequency of rehospitalization. Supplementing 200 IU of Vitamin E per day helps reduce the risk of upper respiratory infections, particularly reducing certain upper respiratory symptoms.  .
Recommended Vitamin E Intake
The Ministry of Health and Welfare provides daily recommended intake for common nutrients, which is currently updated to the eighth edition. Here are the daily recommended intake and upper intake limit of Vitamin E for various age groups:
Dietary Reference Intakes, DRIs 8th Edition
|Age||Vitamin E (mg α-TE)||Upper Intake Limit|
(Modified from DRIs 8th Edition)
Which Foods Contain Vitamin E?
In our perception, vitamin E can only be obtained from plant-based foods. We selected 40 common foods and sorted them by the amount of α-tocopherol (α-TE), listing the top 15 foods. Interestingly, animal-based foods also contain vitamin E.
|High Oleic Safflower Oil||49.09||0||3.32||0.84|
|Rice Bran Oil||32.45||1.2||2.19||0|
|Soybean Salad Oil||9.93||1.54||45.65||4.22|
(Compiled from Vitamin E – Health Promotion Administration, Ministry of Health and Welfare, Taiwan)
When Is the Best Time to Take Vitamin E?
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble nutrient, and its absorption process requires the assistance of fat.
Therefore, the most recommended time for supplementation is after meals or along with high-fat foods, such as nuts, olives, or avocados, to enhance its absorption.
How to Effectively Supplement Vitamin E? Are There Any Side Effects?
When supplementing vitamin E, it’s important to be aware of interactions with other nutrients or medications. Some drugs that may interact with vitamin E include certain anticoagulants, pain relievers, and immunosuppressants. Daily supplementation of 400-800 mg α-TE may cause symptoms in a few people, such as weakness, fatigue, nausea, and diarrhea. When supplementing more than 1000 mg α-TE per day or using it in combination with anticoagulant drugs like warfarin, it can interfere with blood clotting, potentially leading to bleeding or even hemorrhagic stroke. Therefore, it’s safer and more effective to supplement vitamin E according to the recommended intake.
While many foods contain vitamin E, it may not be as easy to meet the recommended daily intake.
According to the National Nutrition and Health Survey of the Health Promotion Administration from 2013-2016, except for the age group of 1-6 years, other age groups did not meet the recommended intake.
So, it’s time to address your vitamin E deficiency and consider timely and adequate supplementation to keep your body happy.