A member of the British Dietetic Association, Juliette Kellow has worked in the NHS and for the food industry, and is the former editor of magazines Slimming and Top Santé. She's also the former editorial...

This antioxidant helps to protect our cells from damage caused by harmful molecules called free radicals. In particular, vitamin E keeps our skin and eyes healthy and strengthens our immune system


What happens if I don’t get enough vitamin E?
A deficiency of vitamin E is virtually unheard of in this country, even in people who have poor diets. On average, British women have 8.3mg daily and men, 9.8mg.

What happens if I have too much vitamin E?
Most people are able to tolerate high levels of vitamin E without experiencing any side effects. But, to be on the safe side, when it comes to taking supplements, the Department of Health recommends no more than 540mg a day.

How much vitamin E do I need each day?
The Nutrient Reference Value (NRV) for vitamin E, which you’ll see on food labels, is 10mg a day. In the UK there are no specific values given for different ages and stages in life – the Department of Health simply recommends men have at least 4mg vitamin E a day and women, at least 3mg daily.

This is because our needs for this nutrient are largely based on the amount of polyunsaturated fats we have in our diets – as a rule, higher intakes of polyunsaturates mean we need more vitamin E.

Foods high in vitamin E

food with vitamin e

Will taking vitamin E supplements make my skin glow?
Vitamin E is important for healthy skin, but there’s no evidence that taking a large amount in supplement form will help to reduce wrinkles or give you a better complexion. Similarly, while vitamin E is a common ingredient in face creams and anti-ageing potions, there’s little evidence to suggest applying it to the skin is truly beneficial – any improvement may simply be due to the moisturising effect of the lotion. There’s also no medical evidence to suggest that applying creams containing vitamin E to scars or stretch marks will improve their appearance.

What about taking vitamin E supplements?
High doses of vitamin E have been implicated in promoting health and protecting against many diseases, including heart disease, Alzheimer’s, age-related macular degeneration and certain cancers. But so far research has provided mixed and inconclusive results – more studies need to be carried out before taking supplements is recommended. Instead, the focus should be on eating plenty of foods that are naturally rich in vitamin E.

Where do I find vitamin E?
It’s found in a wide range of foods, but the best sources are vegetable oils, such as corn and sunflower oil. Vitamin E is also present in nuts, seeds, avocado and green vegetables. Because it’s a fat-soluble vitamin, vitamin E is stored in the body, so we don’t need to have it in large amounts on a daily basis.

Related article: Why we need vitamin C