Elemental E
Vitamin E is an important antioxidant for the body. Jump in and test your vitamin “EQ” with this short quiz.

By Vonalda Utterback, CN
Photo: Jeff Padrick

1. Nuts are the best food source of vitamin E.

2. It’s easy to obtain therapeutic amounts of vitamin E from food alone.

3. Among other health benefits, mounting evidence indicates that vitamin E protects against heart disease.

4. Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin that exists in eight different forms.

1. False. It’s true that nuts (especially almonds), along with sunflower seeds, whole grains, vegetable oils, egg yolks, and leafy green vegetables, all contain vitamin E. However, wheat germ oil takes the prize with the most concentrated amount, at 26.2 IU (international units) per tablespoon, followed by almonds at 7.5 IU.

2. False. Although the recommended dietary allowances for vitamin E range from 22 to 28 IU, human studies showing the benefits of vitamin E are all based on supplementation (often 100 to 800 IU per day). It would be hard to get the high levels of vitamin E used in research studies from food alone.

3. True. Two studies published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that men and women who supplemented with at least 100 IU of vitamin E per day for at least two years had a 37 percent to 41 percent drop in heart-disease risk. The Cambridge Heart Antioxidant Study (CHAOS), in which people took 400 to 800 IU of vitamin E per day, reported an impressive 77 percent drop in nonfatal heart attacks.

4. True. Each form of vitamin E has its own biological activity. However, alpha-tocopherol is the form most widely used in supplements. It is considered a powerful antioxidant that protects the body against the damaging effects of free radicals. However, some experts now believe that gamma-tocopherol may be more active than alpha-tocopherol in certain parts of the body, such as the brain.

—Vonalda Utterback, CN