The benefits of Vitamin E aren’t nearly as well known as, for example, Vitamins C or D, but they’re significant for your overall health. Over the years, scientific studies have shown that Vitamin E is a potent antioxidant, helping the body fight off free radicals that harm healthy cells and, in extreme cases, cause cell death.
Keep reading to find out how Vitamin E plays a key role in preventing free radicals—and the oxidative stress they cause—from harming healthy cells in your body.
Understanding free radicals and oxidative stress
Free radicals occur naturally in the body due to a number of influences, including diet, exercise and environmental factors. It’s healthy to have some free radicals in the body, but when free radicals greatly outnumber antioxidants, oxidative stress can occur.
Free radicals move throughout the body, scavenging electrons from healthy cells. Unfortunately, by stealing the electrons they harm the health of cells, eventually causing cell death. As free radicals multiply and overwhelm antioxidant defenses, they cause oxidative stress which interferes with many of the body’s essential processes.
Oxidative stress has a harmful effect on your heart health, vision, immune system and much more. While studies are ongoing, oxidative stress is believed to contribute to the onset of serious diseases including cancer and diabetes.
The role of antioxidants as free radical stabilizers
How do antioxidants neutralize free radicals? As free radicals move through the body searching for healthy cells with electrons to steal, antioxidants go to work. They freely give up some of their own electrons, breaking the chain reaction that can lead to cellular death.
Maintaining appropriate levels of antioxidants is essential to keep free radicals from overwhelming healthy cells in the body, which could lead to oxidative stress.
Vitamin E is a potent antioxidant
Over the years, studies have shown that Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant, stopping free radicals in their tracks and preventing oxidative stress from damaging and killing cells. Since Vitamin E is fat-soluble, it’s stored in fat throughout the body and released whenever free radicals are detected.
Many people aren’t aware of how important Vitamin E is for their health. By preventing free radicals from harming the body’s cells, you prevent oxidative stress from interfering with essential physiological processes. Healthy adults should aim to consume 15mg of Vitamin E each day, but it’s difficult to accomplish through diet alone.
How to incorporate more Vitamin E into your diet
There’s an abundance of healthy whole foods that are rich in Vitamin E. If you’re looking to boost your daily Vitamin E intake, incorporate more of the following foods into your diet:
- Pressed oils. Sunflower, safflower, hazelnut and almond oils are great sources of Vitamin E, with one serving—or about two tablespoons—containing up to half of your daily intake of the nutrient. Substitute your regular cooking oil for these healthy pressed oils as a quick way to increase Vitamin E levels.
- Leafy green vegetables. Turnip greens, beet greens and Swiss chard contain moderate amounts of Vitamin E. Include them in a salad to bring your Vitamin E levels up, without adding any extra carbs or fat to your daily diet.
- Nuts. Love to snack? Ditch the chips or candy and snack on nuts instead. Almonds, hazelnuts and peanuts are high in Vitamin E, satisfying your cravings and boost your antioxidant levels all at once.
- Fruits. Mangoes and avocadoes are just two fruits that are rich in Vitamin E. Eat a whole fruit a day for up to 30% of your recommended daily intake.
- Meats. Many animal-based foods are rich in Vitamin E. Several types of fish, including Atlantic Salmon, abalone and rainbow trout are particularly good sources. In the mood for something rich? Goose meat or snails are a decadent Vitamin E-rich option.
While these foods are healthy, some of them are also high in fat. If you’re following a fat-conscious diet, it can be difficult to maintain adequate Vitamin E levels in your body. By taking a Vitamin E supplement, you can easily increase your Vitamin E intake without consuming extra calories or making significant dietary changes.
Always talk to your doctor before you take any supplement. And, be sure to increase your Vitamin E intake—your body will thank you for it.
Fight back against free radicals
While you can’t completely eliminate free radicals from the body (they’re actually healthy when kept in-check), fighting back against free radicals is the best way to prevent oxidative stress. Increasing your daily Vitamin E intake can provide your body with powerful antioxidants, preserving your health and well-being.