Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](,dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

Foods rich in vitamin E such as are wheat germ oil, dried wheat germ, dried apricots, hazelnut, almonds, parsley leaves, avocado, walnuts, sweet potato, broccolii, sunflower seeds, spinach and green paprika.

piotr_malczyk/iStockPhoto / Getty Images

Q: I’ve read that vitamin E can help prevent Alzheimer’s. Is it a good idea to take a supplement?

Most of us don’t pay much attention to vitamin E, a nutrient that’s plentiful in nuts, seeds and leafy greens. But we should.

Vitamin E keeps cell membranes strong, enhances immune function, maintains healthy skin, helps relax blood vessels and prevents blood clots from forming in arteries.

Story continues below advertisement

But depending on what your go-to cooking oil is, or the type of diet you follow, you may not be getting enough of this underappreciated nutrient. Here’s what to know about vitamin E.

What is Vitamin E?

Vitamin E is actually a family of eight different naturally occurring compounds. The form that our bodies use, and which our daily requirement is based on, is called alpha-tocopherol.

Vitamin E’s main role is to act as a fat-soluble antioxidant, defending cell membranes from free radical damage. Free radicals are highly reactive molecules that are produced in the body naturally and also by exposure to cigarette smoke, air pollution and ultraviolet light.

If left unchecked, free radicals can damage proteins and DNA in cells, as well as cell membranes, which are especially vulnerable to harm because they’re rich in fatty acids.

As a potent antioxidant, vitamin E also protects immune cells, skin cells and tissues in the eye. It’s also thought that the nutrient can help quell free radical damage associated with fatty liver disease.

Vitamin E and brain health benefits

The brain is highly susceptible to free radical damage, which increases during aging, and its accumulation over time is thought to contribute to cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease.

Several observational studies have found that cognitively healthy older adults with high dietary vitamin E intakes have a lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease compared with those with low intakes of the nutrient.

Story continues below advertisement

Vitamin E may contribute to brain health by shielding brain cell membranes from free radical damage. Animal research also suggests that vitamin E is needed to provide the brain with adequate DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), an omega-3 fatty acid that maintains normal brain cell membrane function.

It’s also possible that other nutrients in vitamin E-rich foods are important in keeping the brain healthy.

There’s limited evidence for the benefits of vitamin E supplements on dementia risk. Including vitamin E-rich foods in your diet appears to be a more effective way to benefit to brain health.

How much, where to get it

Males and females, aged 14 and older, need 15 milligrams (22 international units) of vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) each day. Women who are breastfeeding require 19 mg. Vitamin E needs of children range from six to 11 mg per day, depending on age.

Excellent foods sources include certain cooking oils, nuts and seeds and leafy green vegetables.

Per one tablespoon, wheat germ oil contains 20 mg of vitamin E, sunflower oil has six mg, safflower oil delivers 4.5 mg, grapeseed oil provides four mg and olive oil has two mg.

Story continues below advertisement

One-quarter cup of sunflower seeds provides 12 mg of vitamin E, while the same amount of almonds, hazelnuts and peanuts offer nine mg, five mg and three mg, respectively. Almond butter (four mg per tablespoon) and peanut butter (1.5 mg per tablespoon) are decent sources, too.

Eating cooked leafy greens will also increase your vitamin E intake. Cooked spinach and Swiss chard each provide 3.5 mg per one cup; kale has two mg.

Other food sources include avocado, canned tomato sauce, rainbow trout and kiwifruit.

People who eat a low-fat diet, or one that’s high in heavily processed foods, can fall short on vitamin E. Previous U.S. research has found than 90 per cent of Americans don’t meet their daily requirement for vitamin E from foods.

What about supplements?

In general, taking a vitamin E supplement isn’t recommended. Get your vitamin E from foods.

High-dose vitamin E has the potential to interact with certain medications (e.g., anticoagulants) and some evidence has suggested it could increase prostate cancer risk.

Story continues below advertisement

If you don’t get enough vitamin E from your diet, consider taking a multivitamin supplement; most contain 30 to 60 IU of the vitamin (check labels).

Leslie Beck, a Toronto-based private practice dietitian, is director of food and nutrition at Medcan. Follow her on Twitter @LeslieBeckRD

Sign up for the weekly Health & Wellness newsletter for the latest news and advice.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies