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Vitamin E : what is tocopherol used for?

Vitamin E, also called tocopherol, is a fat-soluble vitamin essential for the proper functioning of the body. Anti-oxidant, it also helps protect the cardiovascular and nervous systems and promote fertility. It is mainly found in vegetable oils.

Characteristics of vitamin E:

• Fat-soluble vitamin in the same way as vitamins A, D and K

• Helps fight against oxidative stress and cellular aging

• Vegetable oils and oilseeds are rich in them

• Acts in synergy with vitamin C, selenium and zinc

• Formerly known as factor X

Why eat foods rich in vitamin E?

Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant, it acts in synergy with other molecules such as vitamin C, selenium or zinc. A good supply of vitamin E thus makes it possible to neutralize the excess of free radicals and to fight against oxidative stress and premature cellular aging. Antioxidants also protect the body from various pathological processes: inflammation, cancer, etc.

Prevention of cardiovascular disease

Tocopherol constitutes and preserves membrane lipids. It has a protective effect on the cardiovascular system. In addition, its anti-inflammatory effect limits the process of atherosclerosis, a risk factor for cardiovascular accidents. A sufficient consumption of vitamin E could, as such, reduce mortality from cardiovascular accidents.

Protection against AMD and neurodegenerative diseases

By combating oxidative stress, vitamin E could have promising effects on cognitive functions and visual acuity. As such, studies are still underway but seem to highlight the positive effect of this vitamin on various conditions such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), cataracts, Alzheimer’s disease, etc.

Vitamin E and skin

A good intake of vitamin E helps maintain healthy skin. This fat-soluble vitamin enters into the constitution of cell membranes and confers elasticity and plasticity to the skin. In addition, its antioxidant action helps fight against skin aging.

Foods rich in vitamin E

Vitamin E is found predominantly in vegetable oils and oilseeds. To ensure a good daily intake of vitamin E, it is strongly recommended to vary vegetable oils and consume them with each meal.

 Food portion( mg)
 Almonds, unbleached, dry roasted or in oil,
or dehydrated
60 ml (1/4 cup) 9-18 mg 
 Wheat germ oil15 ml (1.5 tbsp.) 21 mg 
 Canned sardines, with bones100 g 2 mg 
Asparagus, boiled or raw 125 ml (1/2 cup) 1-2 mg 
 Boiled spinach125 ml (1/2 cup) 1-2 mg 
 Avocado 1/2 avocado  2 mg 
Hazelnuts, unbleached filberts, dry roasted 60 ml (1/4 cup) 5-8 mg 
 Peanuts roasted in oil60 ml (1/4 cup) 2-3 mg 
 Pine nuts 60 ml (1/4 cup)3 mg 
 Canned tomato paste60 ml (1/4 cup) 3 mg 
Canned tomato puree 125 ml (1/2 cup) 3 mg 
 Peanut, olive, or rapeseed oil15 ml (1.5 tbsp) 2 mg 
 Fish eggs, various species30 ml (3 tbsp) 2 mg 
 Corn or wheat bran, raw30 g 2 mg 
 Dried Brazil nuts 60 ml (1/4 cup)2 mg 
 Mixed nuts, oil-roasted or dry roasted 60 ml (1/4 cup)2 mg 
Dry roasted sunflower seeds60 ml (1/4 cup) 8 mg 


How to properly use natural vitamin E?

Recommended nutritional intake

Babies 0-6 months

Babies 7-12 months

Infants 1-3 years

Children 4-8 years old

Boys 9-13 years old

Girls 9-13 years old

Boys 14-18 years old

Girls 14-18 years old

Men 19-75 years old

Women 19-75 years old

Men 75 years and over

Women 75 years and over

Pregnant women

Breastfeeding women

4 mg

5 mg

6 mg

7 mg

11 mg

11 mg

15.5 mg

10 mg

15,5 mg

10 mg

20 to 50 mg

20 to 50 mg

12 mg

12 mg

Food supplements based on tocopherol

Vitamin E-based food supplements are often indicated for their antioxidant power, which helps fight oxidative stress and promotes optimal health. The dosage varies according to the problem and the context. The excess of vitamin E is not without consequences, it is recommended to seek medical advice.

Consequences of vitamin E deficiency

Vitamin E deficiency can affect the nervous system and muscles and cause coordination problems. It can also be the cause of hemolytic anemia in young children.

Consequences of excess vitamin E

Since vitamin E is fat soluble, the body can store it in adipose tissue. Because of this, overdose is quite possible. The main risk associated with long-term excess vitamin E is bleeding. The competent authorities recommend not to exceed a consumption of 62 mg of vitamin E per day in adults.

 Interactions with other nutrients

In the body, vitamin E acts in synergy with vitamin C, selenium or even zinc to provide an optimal antioxidant effect.

The greater the consumption of unsaturated fatty acids (Omega 3, 6 and 9), the greater the intake of vitamin E must be in order to protect them from oxidation inside the body.

 Chemical properties

Vitamin E is a fat soluble vitamin composed of eight molecules, four of tocopherols and four of tocotrienols. It acts in synergy with other antioxidant molecules and helps neutralize free radicals in the body. In the food industry, vitamin E is also used as a food additive (E306) for its antioxidant properties.

History of the nutrient

Vitamin E was discovered in 1922 by two researchers in California. By putting a group of female mice on a low fat diet, they discovered that the mice could get pregnant but the fetuses were unable to develop. Vitamin E was first named factor X and recognized as essential for fetal development.

In 1924, another study demonstrated the essential nature of vitamin E on the fertility of animals. It will then be named tocopherol from the Greek “bearer and offspring”. Despite all these advances, it was not until 1968 that tocopherol was recognized as essential for human health.

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