Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin that is found naturally in some foods, added to others, and available as a dietary supplement. There are 8 different chemical forms of vitamin E, all with antioxidant properties. Antioxidants protect our cells from free radicals that cause cellular damage and may contribute towards cardiovascular disease and cancer. Vitamin E is also important for immune system function, cell signaling, and cellular metabolic processes.
Good sources of vitamin E include wheat germ, sunflower seeds, almonds, peanuts, and hazelnuts, with lesser amounts found in spinach and broccoli. Fortified cereals are also a common source of vitamin E.
Vitamin E deficiency is rare, but has increased likelihood in premature babies of very low birth weight, and people with fat-malabsorption disorders (e.g. Crohn's disease). Symptoms can include peripheral neuropathy, ataxia, skeletal myopathy, retinopathy, and impairment of the immune response.
The recommended daily intake (RDI) for teens 14+ years and adults is 15 mg, with slightly higher levels (19 mg) required during breastfeeding.