Vitamin E contains eight chemical forms (alpha, beta, gamma, delta-tocopherol, and also alpha, beta, gamma, and delta-tocotrienol). Tocopherol is the only form that is recognized to meet human requirements. Vitamin E is a fat-soluble antioxidant that halts the production of reactive oxygen species formed when fat undergoes oxidation.

According to the National Institute of Health, many foods provide efficient quantities of vitamin E. Nuts, seeds, and vegetable oils are the best sources of alpha-tocopherol and significant amounts are in green leafy vegetables. A majority of vitamin E in the American diet is from the form of gamma-tocopherol from soybean and other vegetable oils. Sunflower seeds have a high amount of vitamin E along with almonds, avocados, hazelnuts, spinach, broccoli, and a small amount in tomato.

From a study examining if vitamin E intake affected the risk of developing prostate cancer, for current smokers and men who quit, supplementing with vitamin E for 400 IU/day or more was correlated with a statistically significant reduction by 71% for the risk of advanced prostate cancer. From a clinical trial of 29,133 male smokers who were randomly assigned to take daily supplements of 50 IU of synthetic Vitamin E for 5-8 years had 32% fewer prostate cancers versus subjects that did not take the supplement.

Oxygen is critical for brain and cognitive function. Researchers have hypothesized that if cumulative free-radical damage to neurons occurs over time, it can contribute to cognitive decline and neurodegenerative diseases, like Alzheimer’s disease, that supplementing with vitamin E may provide some benefit and protection. From a clinical trial of 341 patients with Alzheimer’s disease with moderate severity, those receiving vitamin E for the 2 year duration, treatment of vitamin E significantly delayed functional deterioration and the need for institutionalization compared to the placebo.

Some studies show that vitamin E can help delay or prevent coronary heart disease. In vitro studies have found that Vitamin E inhibits oxidation of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, which is important to prevent atherosclerosis. Vitamin E has another key role to prevent the formation of blood clots that could lead to a heart attack or venous thromboembolism. Other studies have shown lower rates of heart disease with higher vitamin E intake from supplementation. From a study of 90,000 nurses, it was found that the incidence of heart disease was lowered 30-40% for those with higher intake of vitamin E from supplements. From a study of 5,133 Finish men and women who were followed for 14 years, higher vitamin E intakes from food, not supplements, was associated with decrease mortality from coronary heart disease.

According to University of Maryland Medical Center, those with diabetes tend to have lowered levels of antioxidants, which is a reason why researchers have theorized that they may be at an increased risk for heart disease. Vitamin E containing foods and other antioxidants may help reduce the risk of heart disease and other complications or side effects of having diabetes. Antioxidants may help balance blood sugar levels and lower cholesterol levels in people with type 2 diabetes, but then also preventing complications of eye damage and kidney damage for those with type 1 diabetes. From a study of subjects with type 2 diabetes that took 400 IU of vitamin E daily, reduced their risk of a heart attack and of dying from heart disease. But if one has diabetes, ask your doctor if a vitamin E supplement is necessary.

As seen, Vitamin E has many functions and important factors in many systems throughout the body. Vitamin E can easily be consumed from seeds, nuts and green vegetables. It has antioxidant properties that are key for preventing disease including cancer, cognitive function, coronary heart disease, lessening complications of diabetes, and reduced risk of dying from heart disease.