Are You Getting Enough E?

Roughly one in three adults in the US is shortchanging herself when it comes to the myriad health benefits of vitamin E, according to a survey of more than 16,000 Americans (Amer. Jour. of Epidemiology, Aug 1999).

Research suggests that upping your intake of E can lower your risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, cataracts, sore muscles, and colds and other infections. Some studies have also linked increased vitamin E intake with a boost in the body’s immune system. The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for vitamin E is 8 to 10 international units (IU) — a level that one-third of Americans fall short of. For maximum benefits of E, you need 100 to 400 IU daily. Most studies indicate that this is the optimal intake for reducing your risk of chronic disease, says Jeff Blumberg, Ph.D., professor of nutrition at Tufts University in Boston. To make sure that you’re getting enough, keep the following recommendations in mind:

Eat foods rich in E. Nuts, whole grains, wheat germ, and dark green, leafy vegetables are good sources of this high-powered vitamin.

Supplement. It’s virtually impossible to get 100 to 400 IU from foods. Even olive oil, one of the best sources of vitamin E, has a mere 1.74 IU per tablespoon. To get 100 IU, you’d need to drink 3½ cups of olive oil per day! Instead, add a supplement that supplies the recommended amount, advises Dr. Blumberg.

Quick Tip: Because vitamin E can slow blood clotting, talk to your doctor before taking an E supplement if you are already taking blood-thinning drugs or have a bleeding disorder.

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