Vitamin E Food Sources
Vitamin E Food Sources
Vitamin E is found in both plant and animal foods, but plant foods are clearly the better source of the two. Some of the best dietary sources of this vitamin are vegetable, nut, and seed oils, along with the nuts and seeds themselves. However, for the rich vitamin E content to be present, the oils must be extracted naturally (i.e., by cold pressing) rather than by heat or chemical extraction. Commercial processing can cause much of the vitamin E content to be lost.
Assuming that significant amounts of vitamin E have not been lost in processing, these oils are especially good sources of vitamin E in the form of alpha-tocopherol:
Wheat germ oil 20.3 mg. tbsp.
Sunflower oil 5.6 mg/tbsp.
Safflower oil 4.6 mg/tbsp.
Canola oil 2.4 mg/tbsp.
Corn oil and soybean oil only contain 1.9 mg and 1.1 mg of alpha-tocopherol, respectively, but they are very good sources of gamma-tocopherol.
In addition, as you might expect, salad dressings, mayonnaise, and margarine (full fat varieties made from vegetable oil) are also a very good source of vitamin E.
The protective covering part of grains referred to as the germ is another excellent source of vitamin E, but again, much of this vitamin E content is lost via milling and bleaching. Dark green vegetables (like broccoli and spinach) are also very good sources of this vitamin.
Besides vegetable oils and the salad dressings and margarines made from them and whole grains and the foods listed in the above chart, hazelnuts, peanuts, and peanut butter are also rich in vitamin E. While almonds, with 7 mg of alpha-tocopherol per 2 tbsp. has the highest vitamin E content of all the nuts, hazelnuts (4.3 mg/2 tbsp.) and peanuts (2.2 mg/ 2 tbsp.) are also very good sources. The following are some of the many other foods which are good sources of vitamin E.
- Fortified cereals
- Green peas
- Pine nuts
- Sweet potato
The foods listed above all contain vitamin E in its most bioavailable form, alpha-tocopherol. Vitamin E as tocotrienols is present in small amounts in legumes, palm oil, and in the bran and germ portion of barley, rice, and oats.
Clearly, there are many different ways to include vitamin E in the diet, but they are not being utilized to the extent that they should. Almost 2/3 of the vitamin E included in the typical American diet comes from vegetable oils, salad dressings, and margarine, only 11% from fruits and vegetables, and only 7% from grains and grain products.
Animal foods, as compared to plant foods, are generally a poor source of vitamin E. One exception would be higher fat meats such as 80% lean/20% fat ground beef, which provides about 0.4 mg of alpha-tocopherol in a 3 oz. serving. Some vitamin E is also found in butter, egg yolk, milk fat, and liver.
The estimated mean daily dietary intake of vitamin E in the U.S. is between 7 and 11 mg for men and 7 mg for women. This is short of the current RDA for both men and women of 15 mg/day (22 IU).