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Vitamin E is a generic term for a whole family of fat-soluble vitamins. All of the vitamins from this family are extremely potent antioxidants. This vitamin is naturally found in come foods, and added to others. It is also available as a dietary supplement. Vitamin E naturally occurs in eight chemical forms: alpha-, beta-, gamma-, and delta-tocopherol and alpha-, beta-, gamma-, and delta-tocotrienol. Each of these forms has different biological activity. As any other fat-soluble vitamin, vitamin E is stored in the body, and the excessive intakes can accumulate and may be very harmful.

Health benefits of vitamin E

As a powerful antioxidant, vitamin E prevents oxidative stress and free radicals. This way, vitamin E may prevent and even reverse the damage to all components of the cells, including proteins, lipids, and DNA. As an antioxidant, vitamin E can inhibit the oxidation of other molecules and terminate the damaging reactions by removing free radicals. The use of antioxidants is intensively studied, particularly as treatments for stroke and neurodegenerative diseases. Scientists believe that antioxidants might prevent some types of diseases, especially heart diseases, cancers and certain neurological diseases.

Vitamin E is very beneficial for the skin as it directly protects the skin from the ultraviolet radiation. This vitamin is also important in the formation of red blood cells, and it helps the body to utilize vitamin K. The American Association of Cancer Research reveals that eating vitamin E rich foods can reduce the risk of developing bladder cancer up to 50%. Gama-tocopherol, which is usually found in foods but not in vitamin supplements, is proven to inhibit prostate cancer cell proliferation, without affecting the healthy tissues. Moreover, a high intake of vitamin E from food reduces one’s risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.

Good sources of vitamin E

Foods containing a lot of polyunsaturated fatty acids will generally contain large amounts of vitamin E. Excellent sources of vitamin E include mustard greens, turnip greens, chard, and sunflower seeds. Spinach and almonds are also very good sources. Among other foods, vitamin E is present in collard greens, parsley, kale, papaya, olives, bell pepper, brussels sprouts, kiwifruit, tomato, blueberries and broccoli. Recommended intake for vitamin E

In 2000, the National Academy of Sciences established the following Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) for vitamin E: 0 to 6 months: 4 mg/day7 to 12 months: 5 mg/day1 to 3 years: 6 mg/day4 to 8 years: 7 mg/day9 to 13 years: 11 mg/day14 and older: 15 mg/dayLactating women are at a somewhat higher demand for vitamin E, and they need around 19 milligrams per day.

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