Many of us strive to get enough vitamin D, vitamin B12 and vitamin C in our diets. Vitamin E, however, is one of the “letter vitamins” we don’t think about very often. And that’s a shame. Because this essential nutrient plays a part the health of our skin, eyes and – especially to note right now – our immune systems.
Although it’s rare to be deficient in vitamin E, it’s still important to make sure you’re getting enough through the foods you eat every day to keep your body functioning properly. Luckily, there are plenty of (tasty and healthy!) ways to up your intake.
Here are five of the best whole food sources to consider – along with some of the easiest ways to add them to your daily snacks and meals.
First, what does vitamin E do?
Vitamin E – like vitamins A, D and K – is a fat-soluble vitamin. Fat-soluble vitamins are only absorbed when we consume a sufficient amount of healthy fats in our diets or have enough body fat to absorb them, unlike B vitamins and vitamin C which are both water-soluble and not stored in the body over time.
One of vitamin E’s main functions is as an antioxidant, working to protect healthy cells from the damaging effects of free radicals. According the National Institutes of Health, vitamin E also plays a part in immune function, cellular health and other metabolic processes, while also supporting a healthy inflammatory response in the body.
The recommended daily allowance for vitamin E is 15 milligrams daily for adult men and women.
What foods have vitamin e?
1. Nuts and Seeds
The most abundant sources of vitamin E of all nuts and seeds include sunflower seeds, peanuts and almonds. Hazelnuts, pecans and Brazil nuts are also good sources.
Serving suggestions: Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of sunflower seeds on a salad, oatmeal or yogurt. Eat ? cup of raw almonds with some raisins, goji berries and walnuts for an afternoon snack. Or, add some chopped hazelnuts to your smoothie, oatmeal or a favorite soup. Try Bob’s Red Mill Sunflower Seeds, Blue Diamond Almonds or Sunfood’s Wild Brazil nuts for some healthy and delicious options.
2. Wheat Germ
Wheat germ, derived from healthy fat found in whole kernels of wheat berries, is one of the best sources of vitamin E. Wheat germ contains roughly 15% of your daily vitamin E needs, whether you choose raw or toasted. Look for fortified versions which supply even more nutrition! Be sure to keep wheat germ in the fridge after opening it since its fat content can cause it to go rancid when stored at room temperature.
Serving suggestions: Wheat germ can be sprinkled on oatmeal or quinoa porridge or stirred into smoothies. Also try adding it to batters for baked goods or breading mixtures. Shiloh Farms Toasted Wheat Germ has a delicious nutty taste that's easy to love.
One of everyone’s favorite foods is another excellent source of vitamin E: the almighty avocado! This fatty fruit is rich in many nutrients, including B vitamins, vitamin K and vitamin E. Since avocados are also high in natural healthy fats, they naturally support vitamin E absorption.
Serving suggestions: Slice or cube avocados and add them to any salad. Add ¼ of an avocado to a smoothie instead of a banana. Or just eat ½ of an avocado with some salsa or tuna salad as a healthy snack or mini-meal.
4. Leafy Greens
Spinach, Swiss chard and beet greens are three vitamin E-rich leafy greens to include in your diet as well. These nutrient-dense greens also deliver other important fat-soluble nutrients, such as vitamins A and K. They also provide vitamin C, folate (a B vitamin) and minerals such as magnesium, calcium and potassium.
Serving suggestions: Be sure to eat leafy greens with a source of fat so your body absorbs the most nutrition from them possible. Try adding greens to a smoothie with some chia seeds, hemp seeds or flax seeds. Or sprinkle sunflower seeds, almonds or avocado over bed of leafy greens for a refreshing salad.
5. Other fruits, veggies and seafood
Butternut squash, broccoli and kiwi contain roughly the same amount of vitamin E found in leafy greens. While not as high as some other sources, these are still important to add to your diet as they’re rich in other important nutrients (including fiber!) that we need for overall health along. Include them in your breakfast, lunch or dinner weekly.
Trout and shrimp also deliver vitamin E, along with healthy protein. Add these seafood options to your diet on a regular basis.
Overall, it’s best to aim for a wide variety of vitamin E-rich foods (as opposed to going overboard with one or two sources).
Should you take a vitamin E supplement?
Vitamin E is available as a supplement, which can be helpful for those who are sensitive or allergic to some of the top sources, such as seafood, nuts, and wheat germ (or gluten). You may also find it easier to take a supplement if you don’t like some of these foods or don’t want to bother with making sure you get them in your daily diet.
If you choose to take a vitamin E supplement, consider one that’s “raw” or food-based for a more natural form. Garden of Life’s Raw Vitamin E is a great example and one of my favorites.
Or, take an organic multivitamin that supplies vitamin E as well if you prefer an all-in-one approach, such as Garden of Life’s myKind Organics which supplies 100% percent of your daily requirements of vitamin E and many other nutrients.