Access to all articles, new health classes, discounts in our store, and more!
By Lindsay Wikholm
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin and an antioxidant. It is most often found in the fats of plant foods. Good food sources of vitamin E include cold-pressed, organic safflower oil, minimally processed wheat germ oil, legumes and nuts such as almonds (raw, so as to protect the vitamin E and other fats in almonds). Peanuts and pine nuts are also high in vitamin E.
Walnuts and pecans are high in the gamma-tocopherol molecule of vitamin E. Dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach also have vitamin E. Freezing, heating and generally processing foods can rapidly destroy vitamin E. For example, grains have relatively high amounts of vitamin E, but the milling process destroys much of this. To obtain the most vitamin E possible from your food, avoid grains and stick to the foods listed above, being sure they are minimally processed. Roasted nuts have lost much of their vitamin E and any oils which are not cold pressed will no longer be a good source of vitamin E.
Grassfed meat and dairy also contains vitamin E. The website www.eatwild.com gives excellent resources on sourcing and purchasing grassfed meat. This link also shows that grassfed, pastured animal protein contains more than double the amount of vitamin E found in conventionally-raised animals. For more information, visit Eat Wild web site and click on the Health Benefits link on the left side of the web site. You may have to scroll down the page to view this chart, but it’s worth viewing. It also shows that pastured animal protein actually contains more vitamin E than those animals who have been supplemented with vitamin E. The tocopherols we learned about in Vitamin E Complex will exist in different ratios in different foods.
Generally speaking, if vitamin E is pulled out of a food in its complete form, it will have a little more gamma-tocopherol than alpha-tocopherol and it may have lesser amounts of beta- and delta-tocopherol. The tocotrienols will also be there, but they are not as active as the tocopherols which are more important to the bioavailablity of vitamin E in the body.
Vitamin E supplements
Interested in the health benefits of vitamin E supplementation? Now that you know what complete vitamin E is, learn where you can get it. Soybeans are actually high in vitamin E. Often, vitamin E is pulled from soy and used in supplements. Many people object to this as they are well aware of the dangers of soy, one of the most commonly genetically-modified foods. However, if vitamin E is pulled from soy and the rest of the harmful components of the soybean, it is not damaging.
David Getoff, PPNF vice-president and certified clinical nutritionist (CCN) states “I don’t care what it came out of as much as what it is now. The rest of the stuff that can kill you is still there.” It is acceptable to leave the bad stuff in a food behind in order to make a quality supplement. That is why sourcing where your supplements doesn’t take precedence over what nutrients your supplements actually consist of. The bad stuff does not become part of your supplement if a nutrient is extracted properly.
Since vitamin E is an oil-based nutrient, you want to be sure you do not select it in powder or as a capsule with power in it. You want an oil-filled gel cap. However, many oil-filled gel caps are large, with the capacity to hold maybe 700 IUs of vitamin E but the manufacturers will only fill it with 400 IUs of vitamin E. What fills the rest of the capsule? Another oil, generally soybean oil. Often, this soybean oil was well on its way to becoming rancid. Remember how vitamin E protects fats so well, it helps protect them in the body until they enter your cells? Do you want to supplement with vitamin E and soybean oil when the vitamin is going to be using itself up to protect the soybean oil? Probably not as your body won’t get the amount of vitamin E published on the supplement’s packaging.
E complex supplement
There is one supplement that meets all the criteria for a complete vitamin E supplement as explained in this blog and Vitamin E Complex. A product called Unique E consists only of vitamin E (including all the tocopherols) and contains no additional oils or fillers. (Please note this is not an affiliate link. PPNF has worked hard to bring this reliable information to you for the good of your own health!) Unique E (labeled as such, because, as you may recall, only d-alpha-tocopherol is allowed to be labeled “Vitamin E”) contains no additional oils. However, if you compare the size of a Unique E gel capsule next to a typical vitamin E gel capsule, you may notice the much larger of the two is the Unique E. Why, when both of them claim to have 400 IU of vitamin E, is one supplement so much larger than the other? The typical oil-base vitamin E supplement may contain 400 IUs of vitamin E and then maybe 300 IU of oil. Unique E contains the 400 IUs of vitamin E (d-alpha-tocopherol) and then contains all the gamma-, delta-, and beta-tocopherol that comprises the true vitamin E molecule. This makes this supplement significantly larger than other vitamin E supplements.
Because Unique E contains only the tocopherols it has a much longer shelf life than a Vitamin E supplement that contains d-alpha-tocopherol and some type of oil. Unique E can last more than twice as long as a typical vitamin E supplement.
You might recall that earlier you learned that vitamin E contains eight molecules. We know now that you can get the mix of tocopherols mostly as they are found in nature in a supplement called Unique E. But how complete is Unique E? Does it contain tocotrienols? Vitamin E as it exists in nature will never consist of the same levels of tocopherols as tocotrienols and vice versa. It may have a higher proportion of tocotrienols than tocopherols or vice versa. Research on vitamin E has shown that tocotrienols and tocopherols compete for receptor sites in the body. This may be why they never exist in equal amounts in nature. Unique E is pulled from substances that possess a much higher proportion of tocopherols. The company that makes Unique E also makes a tocotrienol blend.
David Getoff recommends taking Unique E maybe in the morning and the tocotrienol blend possibly at night, so the body can retain both sets of nutrients rather than have them compete in the body.
Taking Vitamin E
On a final note, since vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin, it can be tough to know when you should consume it. David Getoff recommends taking Unique E or whichever vitamin E supplement you use with breakfast. Unlike water-soluble nutrients, the excess of which leave the body quickly, vitamin E stays in the body all day. It is best to take a vitamin E supplement dosage all at once as sometimes the additional push of consuming a large does will allow more vitamin E to enter the bloodstream.
And remember how we said that vitamin E helps protect fats? Well, make sure you are taking vitamin E when you consume all those good for you fats like pastured, organic butter, coconut oil, and animal fat, so that the fats don’t oxidize in the blood stream. Vitamin E will allow all those good fats to enter the body’s cells and do their work. If you have worked this hard to maintain a healthy diet with healthy saturated fats, you may want to consider a vitamin E supplement in addition to your healthy diet.