How Much Vitamin E Do I Need
Vitamin E to protect against heart attacks and cancer?
What's behind the vitamin E advertisement?
According to advertising, taking vitamin E should protect against cancer and heart attacks, increase performance and delay the aging process. According to the law, only one health-related advertising statement has been allowed for vitamin E so far, namely: "Vitamin E helps protect cells from oxidative stress".
Whether an additional intake of vitamin E in the form of dietary supplements helps protect against cancer and heart attacks has been discussed many times in the past. Studies that deal with these relationships, however, did not provide any clear results. It is considered likely that vitamin E is in the Food association in combination with other food ingredients unfolds a health-promoting effect.
What should I look out for when using vitamin E products?
- The Federal Institute for Risk Assessment suggests a maximum amount in food supplements of 30 mg of vitamin E or vitamin E equivalents per day. Various forms of the vitamin are summarized under vitamin E equivalents. However, the various compounds have different valencies, not every one corresponds 1: 1 to the active vitamin. However, the effective amount of vitamin E is indicated on the packaging so that you can compare the products with one another.
- Please note that critically high intake levels can occur if you use high-dose products or take several vitamin E-containing food supplements at the same time or if you eat vitamin E-fortified foods (e.g. multivitamin juices) in addition to the food supplements. In some people, bleeding disorders are then possible, presumably due to interactions with vitamin K. In individual cases, the simultaneous use of anti-coagulants (vitamin K antagonists, e.g. Marcumar) reduces their effectiveness.
- Long-term intake of very high doses of vitamin E (400 mg / day) can lead to a decrease in thyroid hormones in the blood.
- If you take iron supplements at the same time, you should not use vitamin E for at least two hours.
- To be on the safe side, you should inform your family doctor about taking vitamin E products, especially if they contain more than 30 mg / daily dose. This is especially true if there are illnesses or medication is taken regularly.
For fats (max. 60-80 g per day), use vegetable oils such as rapeseed oil. They not only contain plenty of vitamin E, but also many valuable unsaturated fatty acids. In this way you can make an active contribution to protecting your blood vessels.
What does the body need vitamin E for?
Vitamin E refers to a group of fat-soluble vitamins that have a similar chemical ring-shaped structure. The best known and best researched form is α-tocopherol.
Vitamin E is one of the most important protective vitamins in every cell in the body. It intercepts radicals that attack the fatty acids in the body's cells. It thus makes a major contribution to protecting blood vessels and preventing arteriosclerosis. It is supported in this task by vitamin C, β-carotene and various enzymes. Vitamin E is therefore also very important for the functioning of the immune system.
In the human organism, vitamin E occurs in the liver, fatty tissue, adrenal glands, in the skeletal muscles as well as in the heart and in men in the testes.
A deficiency means that the vitamin can no longer fully exercise its protective function. Radicals are no longer fended off as well, which can lead to cell damage and, in the long term, damage to the nervous system and skeletal muscles. However, a vitamin E deficiency is very rare in Germany. It occurs almost only in people who cannot absorb or use the vitamin. This mainly affects people with a rare genetic defect and people who have had parts of their intestines surgically removed. Furthermore, a vitamin E deficiency can also be the result of cystic fibrosis or severe liver diseases.
Can I cover my daily requirement with food?
Vitamin E can only be made by plants. It protects the plants' own polyunsaturated fatty acids from oxidation and is therefore usually found particularly in high-fat plants. As a fat-soluble vitamin, it is mainly found in oils such as wheat germ oil, rapeseed oil, sunflower oil, corn germ oil and soybean oil. But the vitamin is also absorbed through nuts, fruit, vegetables and bread. Vitamin E is only found in very small amounts in foods of animal origin.
Since vitamin E specifically protects the unsaturated fatty acids in the organism from oxidation “going rancid”, the requirement is closely related to the amount of unsaturated fatty acids consumed. However, because foods with these fatty acids usually contain a lot of vitamin E, the German Nutrition Society (DGE) does not consider additional intake of dietary supplements necessary.
In order to achieve a plasma level of> 30 µmol / l, which is considered optimal for the prevention of diseases, the DGE recommends that women take 12 mg of vitamin E (or compounds equivalent to the active vitamin) daily with their food. For men, 13 mg to 15 mg are given depending on age (the requirement decreases with age). The 2008 national consumption study showed, however, that almost half of adults did not reach the recommended intake. It is therefore recommended that you pay attention to your vitamin E intake in your diet.
The incorporation of vegetable oils into the menu is particularly important. For example, one tablespoon of rapeseed oil (12 g) contains almost 3 mg of vitamin E, i.e. about 1/5 of the daily requirement. One spoonful of wheat germ oil (12 g) even takes in 20 mg of vitamin E, which far exceeds the daily requirement.
However, you should only use seed oil and sunflower oil in small amounts, because although they contain a lot of vitamin E, they contain less of the important omega-3 fatty acids.
Consume 1-2 tablespoons of vegetable oils daily, heated as little as possible, for example for braising at low temperatures or as a salad dressing. Nuts in general, but especially hazelnuts, almonds and peanuts, also contain large amounts of vitamin E. Enjoy a handful of nuts, kernels or seeds every day. Avocados are also rich in vitamin E, but should be consumed rarely because they come from afar and need a lot of water to grow, which the population in these countries often lacks.
BfR (2021): Updated maximum quantity proposals for vitamins and minerals in food supplements and fortified foods
Opinion No. 009/2021 of March 15, 2021
BfR (2021): Maximum amount proposals for vitamin E in foods including dietary supplements
Biesalski, H., Bischoff, S., Puchstein, C. 2010. Nutritional medicine. Georg Thieme Published by Stuttgart / New York.
DGE / ÖGE / SGE. TOP, ROOF. Reference values for nutrient intake. 2nd edition, 6th updated edition, 2020
Max Rubner Institute. National Consumption Study II. Results report, part 2. (2008) accessed on: 23.07.2020
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