Vitamin E

Why do you need it?

Vitamin E helps maintain healthy skin and eyes and strengthens your immune system, supporting your natural defences against illness and infection. It’s an important antioxidant that protects your cell membranes from damage. The most common form of vitamin E is also known as alpha-tocopherol.


Signs of deficiency include muscle weakness, liver and kidney problems, cardiac arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat), vision problems, night blindness, nervous system problems and a poorly functioning immune system.

How much do you need?

There isn’t enough information for a recommended intake for this vitamin so ‘acceptable intakes’, which are the best estimate of requirements, are given instead. The World Health Organisation (WHO) suggests an acceptable intake of 7.5 milligrams (mg) of vitamin D a day for women aged 19+ years and 10 mg for men. For pregnancy and lactation there is no evidence of increased requirements for vitamin E as it is expected that the increased energy intake of pregnant and lactating women will make up for any increased need for this nutrient. The recommended intakes for infants, children, adolescents and older adults are given below.

Recommended nutrient intakes for vitamin E. Click to read more…
Age groupRecommended nutrient intake
Infants and children
0-6 months2.7
7-12 months2.7
1-3 years5.0
4-6 years5.0
7-9 years7.0
Females 10-187.5
Males 10-1810
Females 19-65+7.5
Males 19-65+10
Source: WHO, FAO. 2004. Vitamin and mineral requirements in human nutrition. 2nd ed. Geneva: WHO.

Where to find vitamin E

Vitamin E is made only by plants and is therefore found primarily in plant products, the richest sources are plant oils, margarines and spreads. Other good sources include nuts, seeds, avocados, green leafy vegetables, bell peppers and mangoes. You should be able to get all the vitamin E you need from a varied vegan diet and any vitamin E your body does not use up straight away is stored for future use. 

  • Vegetable oils: Sunflower, safflower, canola (rapeseed), corn, soya and olive oils (and spreads made using them) are the richest sources of vitamin E. These oils can be used for cooking or in dressings. One tablespoon (14 grams) of sunflower oil contains 5.8 milligrams of vitamin E, one tablespoon of canola oil contains 2.5 milligrams of vitamin E and one tablespoon of olive oil contains 2.0 milligrams. 
  • Nuts and seeds: Sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, peanuts and almonds are rich in vitamin E. They can be eaten as snacks or added to various dishes and salads. A small handful (28 grams) of sunflower seeds contains 7.4 micrograms of vitamin E and a small handful of peanuts contains 2.4 milligrams.
  • Avocados: Not only rich in healthy fats, avocados contain vitamin E and can be eaten sliced in salads or used to make guacamole. One (201 gram) avocado contains 4.2 milligrams of vitamin E. 
  • Green leafy vegetables: Spinach, kale and Swiss chard provide a source of vitamin E and can be cooked as a side dish or added to soups, stews and salads. One cup (180 grams) of cooked spinach contains 3.7 milligrams of vitamin E. 
  • Bell peppers: Red and yellow bell peppers are rich in vitamin E and can be eaten raw in salads or cooked in various dishes. One cup (149 grams) of chopped bell pepper contains 2.4 milligrams of vitamin E.
  • Mangoes: These fruits are not only delicious but also contain vitamin E and can be eaten fresh or used in smoothies and desserts. Half a mango (168 grams) contains 1.5 milligrams of vitamin E.