When it comes to daily health, we tend to hear a lot about the importance of vitamins like B, C and D. But Vitamin E is also worthy of our attention—after all, it’s one of the most important essential vitamins. This group of powerful antioxidants protects cells throughout your entire body, fighting off infection, inflammation and even some of the visible signs of aging.
While this important nutrient is abundant in many whole foods that are both delicious and nutritious, it can be hard to get the recommended daily intake of Vitamin E—around 15mg per day—from food sources alone. It’s important to be mindful of the foods you’re eating, and to explore a diet or supplement regimen that ensures you’re getting your daily recommended dose of Vitamin E.
Read on to get acquainted with some of the top food sources of Vitamin E—and to determine if supplementing may be necessary.
Why is Vitamin E important in diet?
Vitamin E is actually a collection of eight different compounds, with alpha-tocopherol taking a leading role in protecting cells from oxidative damage caused by an abundance of free radicals.
Free radicals form in your body when you’re exposed to irritants including air pollution, poor diet, smoking, drinking or an excess of UV light. As free radicals move throughout the body, they damage healthy cells in a process called oxidation. Since Vitamin E is fat-soluble, your body releases it as needed to scavenge these free radicals and keep them from harming healthy cells.
When you receive Vitamin E either through food sources or from supplements, you give your cells extra protection from free radical damage. While research is ongoing, studies show promising results in terms of Vitamin E’s role in protecting the body from a range of diseases, including cardiovascular disease and cancer. It may also improve the health of your skin and fight some of the signs of aging, like wrinkles, fine lines and dark spots.
The best food sources of Vitamin E
From fatty oils to delicious fruits, there are plenty of whole foods rich in Vitamin E. Cooking oils and nuts are exceptionally rich sources, but they’ll also increase your overall caloric and fat intake. Luckily, some fruits and vegetables also contain moderate amounts of this important nutrient.
Incorporate the foods described below into your diet to increase your daily intake naturally—and deliciously!
- Pressed oils. Instead of using vegetable oil for cooking, incorporate more pressed oils rich in Vitamin E to boost your daily intake of this healthy nutrient. One serving, or two tablespoons, of sunflower, safflower, hazelnut, almond or wheat germ oils contains nearly half of your recommended daily intake of Vitamin E.
- Sunflower. Love to snack? Ditch the chips or pretzels for sunflower seeds to enrich your diet with Vitamin E. Just one ounce of sunflower seeds fulfills over half of your recommended daily Vitamin E intake.
- Almonds. Add almonds to your favorite salad or enjoy them as a healthy snack to get more Vitamin E in your diet. Just one ounce of almonds fulfills nearly half of your daily Vitamin E needs.
- Greens. You can boost your daily Vitamin E intake without adding extra calories or fat to your diet. Leafy green vegetables like turnip greens, beet greens and Swiss chard contain moderate levels of this important nutrient.
- Avocado. If you love avocado toast or guacamole, you’re in luck—a whole avocado contains about ¼ of your daily Vitamin E needs. Not only are avocados rich in Vitamin E, they also contain a healthy dose of Vitamin C. When these two vitamins combine, they create a synergistic effect that improves the efficacy of both nutrients.
- Red bell pepper. Raw red bell peppers are rich in both Vitamin E and Vitamin C, giving your immune system a healthy boost. Incorporating red bell pepper is a tasty way to increase your consumption of both of these important vitamins, without adding excess calories or fat to your diet.
- Mango. Enjoy the sweet, mellow flavor of mango while increasing your Vitamin E intake. Half a mango fruit contains about 10% of what you need for the day.
Not getting enough from diet? Try a supplement.
Although Vitamin E is widespread in a variety of whole foods, many people don’t get their recommended daily intake of this important nutrient from food alone. Whether you’re taking extra steps to boost your immune system, prevent inflammation or improve the appearance of your skin, adding a supplement to your daily routine is an easy way to increase Vitamin E consumption.
If you’re considering supplementing, always consult with your doctor first. If you’ve already received approval, choose your supplement carefully. Instead of heading to your nearest big-box store for a synthetic Vitamin E supplement, research your options and choose an all-natural supplement that will provide your body with pure Vitamin E—without any additives or fillers. Your body will thank you for it!