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Vitamin E: A Healing Nutrient Profile

This nutrient protects our cells from damage and may also prevent heart disease, cancer and more
Written by 
Canyon Ranch Staff
Canyon Ranch Reviewer: 
Updated on: 
March 18, 2015

What does vitamin E do?

Vitamin E is an antioxidant that prevents the spread of harmful reactions by free radicals, unstable molecules that can damage your cells. Your immune system relies on the nutrient to mount a response against bacteria and viruses, and your cells need it to interact with each other and carry out their functions.

The nutrient may help protect against cardiovascular disease, thanks to its antioxidant properties and other talents, such as its ability to widen your blood vessels and prevent blood clots within them. In addition, research is underway to uncover the nutrient’s potential role in preventing cancer, eye disorders (such as macular degeneration and cataracts) and cognitive decline.

How much vitamin E do you need?

The daily recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of vitamin E is:

  • 22.4 IU (15 mg) for adults
  • 28.4 IU (19 mg) for women who are breastfeeding

Where can you get vitamin E?

Vitamin E is found in fortified cereals, nuts, fruits and vegetables, but the richest sources are vegetable oils. Vitamin E is actually more easily absorbed in meals with some fat. So if you’re on a low-fat diet, you may not be getting enough of the nutrient. Your doctor or a nutritionist may suggest that you increase your intake of plant-based foods that contain vitamin E, such as nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables.

Some of our favorite foods that contain substantial amounts of vitamin E:


Serving size

Vitamin E (mg)

Sunflower seeds, dry roasted

¼ cup



24 nuts (1 oz)


Spinach, cooked

1 cup


Safflower oil

1 Tbsp


Canned sardines in oil

1 cup, drained


Canola oil

1 Tbsp


Red peppers, raw

1 cup


Asparagus, cooked

1 cup



¼ avocado



1 whole


Canned salmon

3 oz


Peanut butter

1 Tbsp


You can look up the vitamin E content of other foods by referencing the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference.

If you don’t get enough vitamin E from food, supplementation is another option. There is concern that high doses of vitamin E supplements could contribute to hemorrhagic stroke and, in men, prostate cancer, so talk to your doctor or nutritionist about whether you really need to supplement and, if so, how high a dose is right for you. 


Harvard School of Public Health
Institute of Medicine
National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements
United States Department of Agriculture