Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin, like vitamins A, D, and K. Nuts, seeds and their oils are the best natural sources of this vitamin – especially sunflower seeds, almond and hazelnuts. There are actually eight different forms of vitamin... Read more
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin, like vitamins A, D, and K. Nuts, seeds and their oils are the best natural sources of this vitamin – especially sunflower seeds, almond and hazelnuts. There are actually eight different forms of vitamin E found in food – four ‘tocopherols’ and four ‘tocotrienols’. Alpha-tocopherol is thought to be the most biologically active form, and the only form that’s considered in meeting daily vitamin E requirements. Alpha-tocopherol is also the form most commonly found in supplements.
Vitamin E is best known for its role protecting against oxidative stress (free radical damage) in the body. Read on for more information about what vitamin E does, where you can find it and what to look for in a vitamin E supplement.
Primary functions of Vitamin E
How much do we need?
The EU nutrient reference value (NRV) for adults is 12mg, or 18 IU (international units) of the alpha-tocopherol form of vitamin E. Nutrient reference values replace the old ‘RDAs’ and refer to the amount needed to ensure that the needs of nearly all the population (97.5%) are being met.
The best food sources of vitamin E are:
Deficiency signs and symptoms
Deficiency in vitamin E is rare – it’s not too difficult to get enough in our food. Deficiency mainly occurs in people who have a long-term health condition reducing their absorption of vitamin E, or those with a genetic abnormality that interferes with normal regulation of vitamin E in the blood. For these individuals, deficiency symptoms may include muscle weakness, poor immunity, and a type of anaemia. 
Forms and bioavailability
Types of alpha tocopherol
Most supplements provide vitamin E in the form of alpha-tocopherol, which is thought to be the most biologically active. Even within alpha tocopherol, there are different types:
But what about the other forms of vitamin E apart from alpha tocopherol? As mentioned above, there are actually four types of tocopherols and four tocotrienols found in food, all of which can be called vitamin E. Although alpha tocopherol is generally considered the most biologically active of these, other types may have their own important and unique functions. Gamma tocopherol is said to be the primary form found in foods [9,10] and has been widely studied. The tocotrienols may also have specific protective effects in the body and possibly greater antioxidant activity than alpha tocopherol [11,12].
In the next section, we look at how you can incorporate these factors into your choice of supplements.
What to look for when buying a supplement
So considering the points above, the following may be the best types of vitamin E supplements to look for, in order of preference. (Note that these are just indications and should not be used over the advice of your healthcare practitioner.)
Your healthcare practitioner may also advise specific types of vitamin E for certain purposes: for example, tocotrienols only, or a blend that has a higher amount of gamma tocopherol.
Dosages: Lifestyle Labs’ recommendations
Adults: Dosages in individual vitamin E supplements can vary from around 100 IU to 1,000 IU. For general daily or long-term use, we recommend sticking to 100–400 IU daily. 1,000 IU is considered a high dose and may be recommended by a practitioner for a specific purpose or for a certain period of time. For anyone taking an individual vitamin E supplement providing more than 200 IU, we would also recommend taking a vitamin C supplement (or a mixed antioxidant supplement), as vitamin C recycles vitamin E and converts it back to its antioxidant form.
Children: Individual vitamin E supplements are not generally used for children other than under the guidance of a practitioner.
If you are taking any medications or have any medical condition, please consult your healthcare practitioner before taking vitamin E. In particular, vitamin E should not be taken by those on anti-coagulant (blood-thinning) medication unless advised by a healthcare practitioner.
Also see above under ‘Dosages: Lifestyle Labs’ recommendations’ for more guidance on long-term use of vitamin E and advised dosages.
Nutri Advanced Cardi-E provides mixed natural vitamin E, just like real food.