Nutrition Library

Vitamin E

General Information
  • Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin.
  • Vitamin E includes all natural and synthetic vitamin E compounds (tocopherol and tocotrienol derivatives).
  • There are eight different vitamin E variants in nature; α-tocopherol is the most important compound.
  • Vitamin E is part of all animal cell membranes but is only synthesized by plants.
  • Vitamin E is not currently a critical nutrient.
  • Studies in Germany and the USA, however, indicate that inadequate intake may be far more common than thought.
  • Above all, people with gastrointestinal disorders (e.g., Crohn’s disease, cystic fibrosis) and fat digestion problems are at risk of not absorbing enough vitamin E.
Why Do We Need Vitamin E?

Vitamin E plays a crucial role in cell protection.

  • Antioxidant
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Analgesic (pain reducing)
  • Protects unsaturated fatty acids from destruction by oxidation
  • Protection and stability of the cell wall
  • Important for normal functioning of the immune system
  • Protects blood vessels and improves microcirculation
  • Stabilizes erythrocytes (red blood cells)
  • Inhibits blood clotting
  • Slows skin aging
Possible Causes of Deficiency

Low intake:

  • Diet contains foods with a low vitamin E content

Increased intake requirements:

  • Pregnancy, lactation
  • Age
  • Chronic alcohol consumption
  • Smoking
  • Diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, diabetes, CHD
  • Lack of selenium and vitamin C

Impaired absorption:

  • Diseases of the gastrointestinal tract, e.g., IBD (inflammatory bowel disease), bowel resection, celiac disease, involvement in cystic fibrosis
  • Biliary tract diseases

Interaction with medication:

  • Antiepileptics, colestipol (bile acid sequestrant), Orlistat, antiretroviral medications (e.g., zidovudine), cytostatics
Symptoms of Deficiency
  • General: nervousness, irritability
  • Blood: tendency to hemolysis
  • Skin: age spots, accelerated skin aging
  • Immune system: susceptibility to infections
  • Nerves: gait insecurity, muscle weakness, numbness
Recommended Intakes

The biological effectiveness varies among the eight naturally occurring forms of vitamin E. In order to state the total vitamin E activity of all derivatives in a standardized manner, intake recommendations and dietary levels are summarized as RRR-alpha-tocopherol equivalent.

Recommended intake for adults:

  • According to D-A-CH: women 11-12 mg/day, men 12-15 mg/day
  • USA Food and Nutrition Board (FNB): women and men 15 mg/day

Pregnant women:

  • according to D-A-CH: 13 mg/day
  • USA Food and Nutrition Board (FNB): 15 mg/day

Breastfeeding women:

  • according to D-A-CH: 17 mg/day
  • USA Food and Nutrition Board (FNB): 19 mg/day

In children and adolescents depending on age, see


  • Taken as a supplement in high doses (≥ 800 mg = 1200 IU RRR-α-tocopherol per day), vitamin E can lead to gastrointestinal complaints (such as flatulence, diarrhea, nausea) and can also affect blood clotting. Prolonged intake of> 400 mg/day (600 IU) can lead to a decrease in thyroid hormone levels.
  • Individuals taking blood-thinning medications should only take supplemental vitamin E (in addition to dietary sources) in consultation with a doctor; blood clotting ability should be monitored.
  • The functions of vitamin E are heavily dependent on vitamin C, vitamin B3, selenium and glutathione. High dietary vitamin E intake can only be effective if these other nutrients are also present in the body in sufficient amounts.
The Best Plant Sources (per 100 g)

Vitamin E is found mainly in vegetable oils, nuts, seeds, and (dark) green vegetables.

  • Wheat Germ Oil – 185 mg
  • Sunflower oil – 50 mg
  • Safflower oil – 48 mg
  • Rapeseed oil – 30 mg
  • Olive oil – 10-20 mg
  • Hazelnuts – 27 mg
  • Almonds – 25 mg
  • Sunflower seeds – 22 mg
  • Hazelnut butter – 20 mg
  • Peanuts – 10 mg
  • Almond butter – 5 mg
  • Paprika – 3 mg
  • Asparagus – 2.2 mg
  • Kale – 1.7 mg
  • Swiss chard – 1.5 mg
  • Spinach – 1.4 mg
  • Avocado – 1.3 mg
  • Mango – 1.0 mg
  • Corn salad – 0.6 mg
  • Broccoli – 0.6 mg
  • Gröber, U. (2011): Mikronährstoffe. Metabolic Tuning – Prävention – Therapie. 3. Aufl. Wissenschaftliche Verlagsgesellschaft mbH Stuttgart

  • Biesalski, H.K., Bischoff, S.C., Pirlich, M., Weidmann, A., (2018). Ernährungsmedizin – Nach dem Curriculum Ernährungsmedizin der Bundesärztekammer (5.Auflage). Stuttgart: Georg Thieme Verlag

  • Schmiedel, V. (2019): Nährstofftherapie – Orthomolekulare Medizin in Prävention, Diagnostik und Therapie (3.Auflage). Stuttgart: Georg Thieme Verlag



  • Gao X, Wilde PE, Lichtenstein AH, Bermudez OI, Tucker KL. The maximal amount of dietary α-tocopherol intake in U.S. adults (NHANES 2001-2002). J Nutr 2006;136:1021-6.

  • Maras J., Bermudez O, Qiao N. et al. Intake of α-tocopherol is limited among US adults. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 2004, 104 (4), 567 – 575