What is Vitamin E?
Vitamin E is a group of 8 nutrients - 4 tocopherols and 4 tocotrienols. These nutrients are fat soluble and have antioxidant properties. Alpha-tocopherol is the Vitamin E that the human body uses and it has the most antioxidant properties. Most people in the United States do not reach their Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA). This is because of the “fat-free” craze. Fat is necessary for the human body. Don’t be afraid to eat “fatty” foods, if they are healthy!
Where can I find Vitamin E in my diet?
Nuts, seeds, green leafy vegetables, and seed and vegetable oils are the best sources of alpha-tocopherol. The best source of Vitamin E is sunflower seeds which can provide 80% of your daily Vitamin E requirement. Oil-rich plants such as olives and avocados are also Vitamin E rich.
How does Vitamin E work?
Vitamin E prevents the production of free radicals from fat, when fat is broken down. It also protects the cell membrane, which is made up a fat layer. Vitamin E protects LDL cholesterol from oxidation. Oxidated LDL cholesterol accumulated in blood vessel walls which leads to the hardening of arteries. Therefore, Vitamin E has been linked to prevention/delay of coronary heart disease due to it’s ability to thin blood and keep blood vessels healthy. Vitamin E also helps in improving skin conditions and appearance of scars.
Does cooking and storage effect Vitamin E?
Yes. Vitamin E degrades over time in foods. Wheat flour loses 1/3 of its Vitamin E in one year of storage. Oils kept in air tight containers lose 20-30% of their Vitamin E over 6 months. If you leave oils out, all of the Vitamin E will be gone in 4 months. High cooking heats also damage the Vitamin. For example, heating olive oil destroys the Vitamin E - half is lost in 3 hours. Olive oil is a good oil to consume due to its nutritious value, but it is NOT a cooking oil. By heating and damaging the nutrients in the oil, you are consuming more toxins into the body.
REFERENCES: 1. http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminE-HealthProfessional/