Vitamin E is a natural substance available in certain foods. In nature, vitamin E is a blanket term for eight different nutrients…four different tocopherols and four different tocotrienols (alpha, beta, gamma, and delta in each type of nutrient). The difference in the two groups of four nutrients is the amount of double bonds, but we won’t belabor the science!
Each of these vitamin E types is considered a fat-soluble antioxidant and all eight are found in varying degrees in our daily diet. The most famous of the vitamin E group is alpha-tocopherol, being the most intensely studied of nutrients. This is because of its ability to prevent free radical damage which may have profound effects on risks of common diseases.
Why do we need vitamin E? It plays a key role in the health of every cell in the body. Vitamin E is the body’s primary agent for protecting lipids from oxidation. Studies support the role of E in cardiovascular health, immune function and a number of other body systems including the following: circulatory health, support of healthy red blood cell flow, enhancement of focus and memory, promotion of eye health, help with inflammation, and can be helpful to wounds and scars.
As important as this nutrient is, the average American diet fails to come close to a minimal requirement for vitamin E. Several foods are high in vitamin E: Cooked spinach • Almonds (followed by hazelnuts, pistachios, pecans and walnuts) • Roasted sunflower seeds (followed by pumpkin and squash seeds and sesame seeds) • Avocados • Shrimp (followed by other shellfish such as crayfish and oysters) • Rainbow Trout (followed by herring, and salmon) • Olive oil • Cooked broccoli • Cooked butternut squash (followed by pumpkin and cooked mashed sweet potato).