Today is Friday the 13th, a great day to tell you how to keep your endothelial cells healthy and functioning properly so that you don’t have to rely on luck to prevent a fatal heart attack! The most important thing we can do to prevent heart disease or stop heart disease from progressing is keep our endothelial cells healthy so that they can produce nitric oxide, which dilates blood vessels, and keeps our blood vessels slick enough to keep plaque from forming.
This two-part series on heart disease is growing into a three-part series. Today in Part II, let’s have a look at how endothelial cells get damaged. Tomorrow in the final part of the series, I will tell you how to protect and heal endothelial cells.
Our endothelial cells get damaged by foods that we eat, specifically, fatty foods (including animal foods, with saturated fat), fast foods, all oils, and caffeine.
Dr. Robert A. Vogel of the University of Maryland School of Medicine demonstrated the direct and immediate impact of fatty food on our endothelial cells in 1999(1) using the Brachial Artery Tourniquet Test (BART), a noninvasive technique that uses ultrasound to measure the diameter of the brachial artery before and after consuming various foods. The test is used to determine how long it takes the brachial artery to spring back to its normal, pre-meal diameter, a measure of how much nitric oxide (a powerful vasodilator) is being produced by the endothelial cells to dilate the artery.
Dr. Vogel used a group of students to show that even one fatty meal could damage the endothelial cells lining the brachial artery wall. He started by using Brachial Artery Tourniquet Test to get a baseline measurement of how long it took the students’ artery walls to spring back to normal.
The students were divided into two groups: one group was fed a fast food breakfast with 900 calories and 50 grams of fat; the other group was fed a breakfast of 900 calories with no fat. Dr. Vogel repeated the Brachial Artery Tourniquet Test after the students ate and found some impressive results: for the “no fat” group, the arteries bounced back to normal as they had when first measured before the meal; for the “high fat” group, the arteries took significantly longer to return to normal. This shows the impact that a single meal can have on our endothelial cells.
Processed vegetable oils, dairy products, and meat (including chicken & fish) injure endothelial cells, and in doing so, reduce the number of functioning endothelial cells that can produce protective nitric oxide. Without enough nitric oxide, plaque blockages build up and grow, and eventually cause heart disease and strokes. And according to Caldwell B. Esselstyn Jr., MD, what BART really tells us is that with every single Western meal we eat, whether it’s meat, dairy, or olive oil, we injure our endothelium.(3) So just imagine what happens after eating one or more high-fat meals every single day, as so many Americans do!
By injuring our endothelial cells and reducing the amount of endothelial cells left to produce nitric oxide, our Standard American Diet also makes our blood “sticky”, so the mess of cholesterol, cells, and debris can cause a whole cascade of events that lead to inflammation, heart disease, plaque formation, and heart attacks.
In a follow-up study the next year, Dr. Vogel used the same Brachial Artery Tourniquet Test technique to investigate the fatty components of the Mediterranean diet to determine the impact of the “healthy” fats on the function of endothelial cells.(4)
In this study, 10 healthy subjects were fed meals with 900 calories and 50 grams of fat. The meals consisted of either olive oil, canola oil, or salmon (fish oil) with bread. In addition, two of the olive oil meals were supplemented with antioxidant vitamins (C and E) or with foods (balsamic vinegar and salad).
Vogel found that after the meals, olive oil constricted blood flow by 31%, three times as much as canola oil (10%) and 15 times as much as fish oil (2%)! So even olive oil is compromising our endothelial cells!
The study concluded that “the beneficial components of the Mediterranean and Lyon Diet Heart Study diets appear to be antioxidant-rich foods, including vegetables, fruits, and their derivatives such as vinegar, and omega-3-rich fish and canola oils” (not olive oil).(4) Canola oil may share some of the unique vasoprotective properties of other omega-3-rich oils, such as fish oil.
Dietary fruits, vegetables, and their products appear to provide some protection against the direct impairment in endothelial function produced by high-fat foods, including olive oil”.
So now we know that fats and oils, even “healthy” olive oil, injure our endothelial cells, reducing the number of endothelial cells that can produce nitric oxide, which we need to protect our arteries from plaque. Tomorrow in the final part of the series, we will look at how to keep our endothelial cells healthy to prevent or reverse heart disease.
Many will agree that there is nothing better than a glass of sweet and spicy eggnog on a chilly, white Christmas morning ♥
I know everyone loves sipping on this delicious, creamy drink this time of year, but oh does this holiday splurge come with a whole lot of unwanted calories!
Traditionally, eggnog contains a few whole eggs, heavy cream and is loaded with sugar. Plus, I know some of you like to sneak in some rum on occasion 🙂
One cup of eggnog (a full glass will be about 2 cups) contains 343 calories, and if you add the alcohol, it becomes a whopping 450 calories…and that’s only half of your glass!
This is a whole lot for your body to digest, especially around the holiday extravaganza when we splurge on sweet foods and drinks almost almost every day.
With that in mind, I know you will appreciate me sharing this yummy holiday treat with you, which is also 100% sugar, dairy and egg-free.
This egg-less eggnog is not only super tasty, but also packed full of amazing nutrition that your beautiful bod will love you for ♥
Cashews are rich in vitamin E, selenium and iron, while the dates add some natural sweetness to the drink along with lots of gut-healthy fiber, magnesium and vitamin B6, needed for healthy cell metabolism.
This really is one amazing cocktail, so enjoy!
- 1 cup raw cashews (soaked in water for 10 min to soften)
- 5-6 raw pitted dates*
- 1 ripe banana
- 1 cup almond milk, or any other nut milk of choice**
- pinch of cinnamon
- pinch of nutmeg
- pinch of ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
- Blend all ingredients until smooth
- Chill in the refrigerator for a few minutes
- Sit back, relax and enjoy every sip, preferably in good company 🙂
- *You can add a tablespoon of maple syrup in addition to the dates if you prefer the drink sweeter
- **You can also just add plain water as the cashews will turn into cashew milk when blended. If you want the eggnog to be thicker, add another handful of nuts to the mix
Wishing you a healthy & happy holiday season!
Exact tally of human genes remains elusive
BOSTON — No one really knows all the genetic parts needed to make a human being.
Exactly how many genes make up the human genome remains a mystery, even though scientists announced the completion of the Human Genome Project a decade ago. The project to decipher the genetic blueprint of humans was supposed to reveal all of the protein-producing genes needed to build a human body.
“Not only do we not know what all the genes are, we don’t even know how many there are,” Steven Salzberg of the University of Maryland in College Park said October 11 during a keynote address at the Beyond the Genome conference, held in Boston. Most estimates place the human gene count in the neighborhood of 22,000 genes, which falls between the number of genes in a chicken and the number in a grape.
Grape plants have 30,434 genes, by the latest count. Chickens have 16,736 genes, a number Salzberg said will likely grow as scientists put the finishing touches on the chicken genome. As in humans, the gene totals for each species are not as precise as they seem and are subject to revision.
The most accurate estimate of the human gene count is the RefSeq database maintained by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, Salzberg said. He laid out arguments for favoring this estimate, such as its inclusion of all confirmed genes to date, in a paper published in May inGenome Biology. By the RefSeq count, humans have 22,333 genes. But another government database lists 38,621 human genes. And a different project called Gencode currently recognizes 21,671.
Such disparate numbers stem from the fact that genes comprise only about 1 percent of the 3 billion As, Ts, Gs and Cs that make up the human genetic instruction book. And the genes aren’t conveniently laid out as single, continuous stretches of genetic code. Instead, human genes are found in protein-encoding pieces called exons, interspersed with stretches of DNA that don’t make protein. These spacers are called introns.
To make matters worse, each exon in a gene codes for only a portion of a protein. Cells can mix and match different combinations of exons to make various proteins.
Traditionally, scientists have used computer programs to sift through billions of DNA letters and pinpoint the locations of genes. The programs have improved over the years, but they still aren’t as good as people at plucking exons from the sea of introns and figuring out how those protein-encoding segments are spliced together, said Clara Amid, a computational biologist at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Hinxton, England.
Amid is involved in the Gencode project, an effort to identify all the human genes and the many permutations of those genes that can lead to a dizzying number of proteins. She and her colleagues pick out genes the old-fashioned way — by hand. The researchers get plenty of clues where genes are from computerized gene-finders, studies that sequence RNA produced by genes, and from comparisons of human DNA to the genomes of other animals. Synthesizing all that information allows people to accurately find and mark the locations of genes, a process scientists call annotation. “The best computerized methods could replicate the manual annotation only 40 to 50 percent of the time,” Amid said October 12 at the Beyond the Genome conference.
The Gencode team isn’t finished with its work; several chromosomes still need the human touch. Gencode’s current count is 21,671 human genes. “The number will go up, definitely,” Amid said. Already the team has located several new genes on chromosome 4 thanks to data from RNA-sequencing projects, she said.
Exactly how many new genes might be located by sequencing RNA instead of DNA is anyone’s guess. Scientists who sequenced RNA from fruit flies discovered 1,938 new genes, Brenton Graveley from the University of Connecticut Health Center in Farmington said at the conference.
The Mammalian Gene Collection, one effort to catalog all of the full-length RNA versions of genes, lists 18,877 human genes. That number is likely to represent the lower boundary of the gene count, Salzberg said.
If new RNA sequencing methods detect the same proportion of new genes in people as were found in fruit flies, the human genome could gain about 3,000 more genes in addition to those already confirmed by RefSeq. “That would be an exciting result,” Salzberg said. “I’d be surprised, but we like surprises in science.”
Source: M. Pertea and S. Salzberg/Genome Biology 2010; Credit: T. Dubé, chicken icon: Pinare/Shutterstock, human icon: Mysontuna/Shutterstock
Though simple organisms generally have relatively small genomes, gene number is not necessarily correlated to complexity. Here are a few different organisms, along with their current estimated gene counts.
For serving size for specific foods see the Nutrient Rating Chart.
Vitamin E is a blanket term for eight different naturally occurring nutrients—four different tocopherols and four different tocotrienols. Each of these vitamin E types is considered a fat-soluble antioxidant, and all eight are found in varying degrees in our daily diet. You may sometimes hear all eight molecules being referred to collectively as “tocochromanols.”
The most famous of the vitamin E group is alpha-tocopherol. Both with respect to diet and high-dose supplementation, it is among the most intensely studied of nutrients. This is because its ability to help prevent free radical damage is well documented Public health recommendations for vitamin E are typically measured in milligram equivalents of alpha-tocopherol equivalents, or mg ATE. You will find this abbreviation being used throughout our live website charts.
However, despite the current prominence of alpha-tocopherol in public health recommendations and nutrition research, scientists are also interested in potential health benefits associated with lesser studied members of the vitamin E family, especially the tocotrienols. Like tocopherols (including alpha-tocopherol), tocotrienols are naturally occurring forms of vitamin E. Since they cannot be converted by humans into alpha-tocopherol, the tocotrienols are not considered relevant in meeting vitamin E needs. However, preliminary studies suggest that tocotrienols can provide us with health benefits in a way that is distinct from alpha-tocopherol, as well as other tocopherols. We look forward to future research in this area.
In this introductory description of vitamin E, it is also worth mentioning the unusually confusing nature of its units of measurement. There is really no such thing as “milligrams of vitamin E” since this description fails to explain what forms of the vitamin were considered when making the determination. As mentioned earlier, our website chart present vitamin E data in terms of “mg ATE” which stands for “milligrams of alpha-tocopherol equivalents.” However, other types of equivalents can be used in presenting vitamin E data. For example, equivalents of d-alpha-tocopheryl acetate and equivalents of d-alpha-tocopheryl succinate can be used. (These two chelated, synthetic forms of vitamin E are frequently found in dietary supplements due to their longer shelf life).
While many of the World’s Healthiest Foods are rich in vitamin E, we see that average U.S. adults fail to come close to a minimal requirement for this important nutrient. Below, we’ll give you some guidance to help you chose foods rich in vitamin E that will better help you meet your daily needs.
You’ll have a number of foods to choose from to build a menu that is rich in vitamin E. We list seven of the World’s Healthiest Foods as excellent sources of vitamin E. Another six foods rate as very good sources, while twelve foods are listed as good.
Role in Health Support
Protection Against Free Radical Damage
Vitamin E is a potent antioxidant. Because it is fat soluble, we see it offer protection against damage to the fats that line the outside of every cell of our body.
When the fats in our membranes become damaged, important cell functions become compromised. Based on this important mechanism, researchers have studied whether diets low in vitamin E are associated with many diseases associated with aging.
We also see vitamin E protect fats from free radical damage before we eat them. We’ll talk about the role of vitamin E in protecting foods during storage below in the Impact of Cooking, Storage, and Processing section.
Protection Against Heart Disease
Vitamin E helps protect LDL cholesterol (sometimes referred to as “bad” cholesterol) from free radical damage. Free radical damage typically involves an unwanted interaction with a reactive oxygen-containing molecule. When vitamin E is deficient—and under some other circumstances as well—it is possible for LDL cholesterol to become insufficiently protected and damaged by oxygen. When damaged in this way, the LDL cholesterol is often referred to as “oxidized LDL.” If the process continues, it is possible for oxidized LDL to accumulate in blood vessel walls and create the early stages of hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis).
Diets rich in vitamin E from vegetables, fish, and plant oils—like the Mediterranean diet for example—have been linked to cardiovascular prevention in large health surveys. Understand, though, that the potential benefits of this diet are not limited to or fully explained by vitamin E, and that dietary supplements of vitamin E (in comparison to vitamin E in food) have not demonstrated the same sort of preventive benefit that researchers hoped to see.
Summary of Food Sources
Of our seven excellent sources of vitamin E, five are green leafy vegetables. Followers of our WHFoods site will probably not be surprised by this—green leafy vegetables score well as sources of many different nutrients. With respect to vitamin E, their combination of nutrient richness and low calories is very compelling to our rating system. Expect each serving of greens to contain about 15 to 25% of your daily requirement.
Outside of greens, the foods with the most vitamin E tend to be high fat foods. These include nuts, seeds, extracted oils, and fatty fish. The amount of vitamin E per serving of nuts or seeds can vary widely, but you should expect to receive at least about 10% of your daily need, and sometimes as much as 80% (as we see with sunflower seeds).
Many oil rich-plants give us good amounts of vitamin E. These include olives and avocados, both of which provide between 10-15% of your daily need. Because these oily foods contain more calories, we rate them as good rather than very good or excellent sources. Still, we encourage using these plants or plant oils to help provide vitamin E.
We see a few of our World’s Healthiest seafoods are rich sources of vitamin E. Shrimp and sardines are two examples of this, with each topping 10% of daily requirements. Salmon and cod contain a little less vitamin E, yet can still be solid contributors.
Because most U.S. residents fail to get enough vitamin E in their daily diet, we recommend paying some attention to food sources of this important antioxidant. As long as you make a few of these vitamin E rich foods staple foods in your daily diet, you should be able to meet your intake requirements through foods alone..
Perhaps the easiest way to make sure you are getting enough vitamin E is by including sunflower seeds as snacks or as part of meals. This recipe for Healthy Turkey Salad contains nearly the whole Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) in one meal. Here are a few more recipes—Pureed Sweet Peas and 5-Minute Collard Greens with Sunflower Seeds—that include sunflower seeds.
We can also rely on meals that contain multiple foods providing more modest amounts of vitamin E, and allow them to stack up to become a more substantial amount. Our Poached Eggs Over Spinach and Mushrooms recipe contains spinach, eggs, and olive oil as sources of vitamin E. Together, they provide one-third of the RDA in only 10% of your daily calorie intake.
Recipes that contain nuts and nut butters will be a nice way to add vitamin E into your meals. You can be creative in the way you do this; for example, our 10-Minute Apricot Bars is a dessert recipe that provides more than 40% of the RDA for vitamin E.
There is a balance between getting plenty of fat-rich foods as sources of vitamin E and overdoing it and letting the calories pile up. As long as you choose wisely, you should be able to cover your vitamin E needs with just a few rich sources.
Nutrient Rating Chart
Introduction to Nutrient Rating System Chart
In order to better help you identify foods that feature a high concentration of nutrients for the calories they contain, we created a Food Rating System. This system allows us to highlight the foods that are especially rich in particular nutrients. The following chart shows the World’s Healthiest Foods that are either an excellent, very good, or good source of vitamin E. Next to each food name, you’ll find the serving size we used to calculate the food’s nutrient composition, the calories contained in the serving, the amount of vitamin E contained in one serving size of the food, the percent Daily Value (DV%) that this amount represents, the nutrient density that we calculated for this food and nutrient, and the rating we established in our rating system. For most of our nutrient ratings, we adopted the government standards for food labeling that are found in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s “Reference Values for Nutrition Labeling.” Read more background information and details of our rating system.
|World’s Healthiest Foods ranked as quality sources of
|Sunflower Seeds||0.25 cup||204.4||12.31||82||7.2||excellent|
|Swiss Chard||1 cup||35.0||3.31||22||11.3||excellent|
|Turnip Greens||1 cup||28.8||2.71||18||11.3||excellent|
|Beet Greens||1 cup||38.9||2.61||17||8.1||excellent|
|Mustard Greens||1 cup||36.4||2.49||17||8.2||excellent|
|Chili Peppers||2 tsp||15.2||2.06||14||16.2||excellent|
|Almonds||0.25 cup||132.2||6.03||40||5.5||very good|
|Broccoli||1 cup||54.6||2.26||15||5.0||very good|
|Bell Peppers||1 cup||28.5||1.45||10||6.1||very good|
|Kale||1 cup||36.4||1.11||7||3.7||very good|
|Tomatoes||1 cup||32.4||0.97||6||3.6||very good|
|Olive Oil||1 TBS||119.3||1.94||13||2.0||good|
|Collard Greens||1 cup||62.7||1.67||11||3.2||good|
|Kiwifruit||1 2 inches||42.1||1.01||7||2.9||good|
|Green Beans||1 cup||43.8||0.56||4||1.5||good|
Density>=7.6 AND DRI/DV>=10%
|very good||DRI/DV>=50% OR
Density>=3.4 AND DRI/DV>=5%
Density>=1.5 AND DRI/DV>=2.5%
Impact of Cooking, Storage and Processing
The vitamin E in foods degrades slowly over time. For example, at room temperature, wheat flour loses about one-third of its vitamin E at close to one year of storage. That said, most people would be making use of their wheat flour long before this year-long time period.
Similarly, olive oil kept in a closed bottle will lose about 20-30% of its vitamin E over six months of storage. Don’t leave the bottle open, though, as all of the vitamin E will be gone after three or four months if you do. (While leaving olive oil in an opened bottle might sound unlikely, there are a good number of olive oil containers in the marketplace that feature an unsealed spout, and we do not recommend storage of olive oil in this way. You will find many more details about olive oil storage in our Extra Virgin Olive Oil food profile.)
Vitamin E also gets damaged by high heat cooking. For example, heating olive oil at 340°F (172°C) will lead to a destruction of the vitamin E, with almost half lost at three hours, and almost all of it gone by six hours. At WHFoods, we do not generally recommend any heating of extra virgin olive oil, and if we do include it in a heated sauce or other recipe, we heat it very gently and briefly. The delicate nature of vitamin E, and the fatty acids it protects, are good reasons to avoid heating of this oil. We adopt a similar approach for oil-rich foods like nuts and seeds, which we recommend be consumed in raw or minimally cooked form.
Usually in this section of our nutrient profiles, we discuss how specific nutrients are damaged in the storage of foods. But with respect to vitamin E, it is equally important to note that this nutrient can protect the foods from damage. For example, meat from chickens fed diets high in vitamin E show less evidence for free radical damage to their fats over 10 days of storage. Presumably, this vitamin E richness in the food consumed by the chickens helped protect their body fat from damage by oxygen. (We don’t have research comparing the human health consequences of consuming chicken fat with and without varying degrees of free radical damage. But we do know that animals fed diets that are rich in vitamin E typically provide us with animal foods that have good amounts of this vitamin as well.)
Risk of Dietary Deficiency
Given that the average U.S. adult eats exactly half the Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) for vitamin E—7.5 mg of the recommended 15 mg per day—the risk of dietary deficiency of vitamin E in the United States is substantial. In fact, vitamin E is one of the most common vitamin deficiencies in the United States, with as many as 92% of men and 98% of women failing to reach target intake goals.
In 2006, a research group from Tufts University did a statistical model of the best way to ensure vitamin E nutrition while staying within normal calorie levels and without impairing other nutrient intake. Among their conclusions, they asserted that a low intake of nuts and seeds—70% of their subjects didn’t eat any of either—was predictive of low vitamin E intake. Analyzing this conclusion in reverse, this is further evidence that nuts and seeds can be a good place to start when trying to achieve strong vitamin E nutrition. (Of course, low intake of dark green leafy vegetables by the average U.S. adult is another reason why so many people in the U.S. fail to meet their vitamin E needs.)
At first, it may seem like a paradox that we tend to eat diets high in fat, yet fail to have reliable vitamin E nutrition. That’s because not every type of dietary fat is as rich in vitamin E as nuts or seeds. The way plant cooking oils are manufactured and processed can lead to significant destruction of the nutrient before it ever gets to your plate. Generally speaking, you should expect highly processed foods (e.g., oils made from nuts and seeds) to contain less vitamin E than their whole, natural counterparts (e.g., whole nuts and seeds).
Other Circumstances that Might Contribute to Deficiency
Diets that overly restrict fat can limit vitamin E intake substantially. It will not be impossible to achieve vitamin E nutrition with a very low fat diet, but you’ll need to work much harder to do it. For example, if you decided that you wanted to get 100% of your DRI for vitamin E from sunflower seeds alone—our richest WHFoods source—you would need to allow for 18 grams of fat in your day’s food just to provide that amount. In an 1,800-calorie meal plan, that amount of fat would represent 9% of total calories all by itself. If you consumed an additional 18 grams of fat from all of the rest of your foods on that day, you diet for that day would already be close to 20% fat. On the other hand, if you were willing to obtain your vitamin E exclusively from dark green leafy vegetables, you could get 100% of the DRI from about 5 cups, representing 150-200 calories but only 2-5 grams of fat.
Any disease or medication that impairs the ability to digest fats will also endanger vitamin E nutrition. If this potentially describes you, make sure to talk to your doctor to make sure that you are protected against deficiency.
Relationship with Other Nutrients
Diets high in polyunsaturated fats—the type found in most fish and vegetable oils—may increase your requirement for vitamin E. Some sources recommend an older standard of an extra 0.6 mg of vitamin E for each gram of polyunsaturated fat. We are not convinced that this level of specificity is well supported, even though the principle of increasing vitamin E intake along with increased intake of polyunsaturated fat makes good sense to us. The World’s Healthiest Foods recipes tend to be moderate in polyunsaturated fats (and much higher in the more stable monounsaturated fats than most U.S. diets), and as such, we believe that our WHFoods recommendation of 15 milligrams of d-alpha-tocopherol equivalents per day should suffice for the average person.
Like other dietary antioxidants, vitamin E needs help from multiple nutrients to do its job at maximum efficiency. In particular, vitamin C helps to recycle vitamin E so it can continue to neutralize free radicals over and over again.
If vitamin K levels are low, too much vitamin E can lead to problems involving too easy bleeding from injuries and too slow closing of wounds. The amounts of vitamin E necessary to create this effect are large, however, and probably not achievable via diet alone. (In other words, dietary supplementation of vitamin E would most likely be required to create this degree of imbalance between vitamin E and vitamin K.)
Risk of Dietary Toxicity
We are not aware of a single published report of adverse effects from dietary vitamin E. Reflecting this lack of evidence for harm, the National Academy of Sciences set the Tolerable Upper Intake Limit (UL) for vitamin E at 1000 mg, more than 60 times the DRI, and more than 100 times what an average American eats in a day. You can feel confident that you are not eating toxic levels of vitamin E in your daily diet. Translated into IU, 1,000 milligrams of vitamin E represents 1,490 IU of d-alpha-tocopherol and 1,360 IU of d-alpha-tocopheryl acetate.
- Heart attack
- Fibrocystic breast disease
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Parkinson’s disease
- Macular degeneration
- Intermittent claudication
- Cold sores
- Immune health
Public Health Recommendations
In 2000, the National Academy of Sciences established a set of Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) for vitamin E. These recommendations included Adequate Intake (AI) levels for infants under one year of age, and Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) for everyone else. These milligrams amounts represent alpha-tocopherol equivalents, or mg ATE. DRIs for vitamin E are as follows:
- 0-6 months: 4 mg
- 6-12 months: 5 mg
- 1-3 years: 6 mg
- 4-8 years: 7 mg
- 9-13 years: 11 mg
- 14+ years: 15 mg
- Pregnant women: 15 mg
- Lactating women: 19 mg
The most common DRI for vitamin E—15 milligrams ATE (alpha-tocopherol equivalents) —translates into approximately 22 IU of d-alpha-tocopherol and 20 IU of d-alpha-tocopheryl acetate. (The form of d-alpha-tocopherol is a naturally occurring form of vitamin E that is chemically classified as “non-esterified” and d-alpha-tocopheryl acetate is an esterified form commonly found in supplements due to its longer shelf life.)
The 2000 DRI recommendations also included a Tolerable Upper Intake Limit (UL) for adults of 1000 mg per day. As discussed above, this is more than an order of magnitude beyond even what the most vitamin E-rich diet could ever contain. For this reason, we should consider this UL more for supplement intake than guidance around dietary choices. Translated into IU, 1,000 milligrams of vitamin E represent 1,490 IU of d-alpha-tocopherol and 1,360 IU of d-alpha-tocopheryl acetate.
The Daily Value (DV) for vitamin E is 30 IU. The measurement of IU, short for International Units, is an older way to quantify vitamin E with 1 milligram of d-alpha-tocopherol from food equivalent to 1.49 IU.
- Azzini E, Polito A, Fumagalli A, et al. Mediterranean diet effect: an Italian picture. Nutr J 2011;10:125.
- Ben-Hassine K, Taamalli A, Ferchichi S, et al. Physicochemical and sensory characteristics of virgin olive oils in relation to cultivar, extraction system and storage conditions. Food Res Int 2013;54:1915-25.
- Casal S, Malheiro R, Sendas A, et al. Olive oil stability under deep-frying conditions. Food Chem Toxicol 2010;48:2972-9.
- Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine. Dietary Reference Intakes for vitamin C, Vitamin E, Selenium, and Carotenoids. Washington, DC: National Academy Press; 2000;284-324.
- Gao X, Wilde PE, Lichtenstein AH, et al. The maximal amount of dietary alpha-tocopherol intake in US adults (NHANES 2001-2). J Nutr 2006;136:1021-6.
- Krichene D, Allalout A, Mancebo-Campos V, et al. Stability of virgin olive oil and behavior of its natural antioxidants under medium temperature accelerated storage conditions. Food Chem 2010;121:171-7.
- Luciano G, Moloney AP, Priolo A, et al. Vitamin E and polyunsaturated fatty acids in bovine muscle and the oxidative stability of beef from cattle receiving grass or concentrate-based rations. J Anim Sci 2011;89:3759-68.
- Narciso-Gaytan C, Shin D, Sams AR, et al. Dietary lipid source and vitamin E effect on lipid oxidation stability of refrigerated fresh and cooked chicken meat. Poult Sci 2010;89:2726-34.
- Nielsen MM, Hansen A. Stability of vitamin E in wheat flour and whole wheat flour during storage. Cereal Chem 2008;85:716-20.
- Sen CK, Khanna S, and Roy S. (2006). Tocotrienols: vitamin E beyond tocopherols. Life Science 78(18): 2088-2098.
- U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. 2012. Total Nutrient Intakes: Percent Reporting and Mean Amounts of Selected Vitamins and Minerals from Food and Dietary Supplements, by Family Income and Age, What We Eat in America, NHANES 2009-2010.
- Valk EE, Hornstra G. Relationship between vitamin E requirement and polyunsaturated fatty acid intake in man: a review. Int J Vitam Nutr Res 2000;70:31-42.
Information About Vitamin E
- Vitamin E is a fat soluble vitamin that may improve immune function.
- Vitamin E is an antioxidant that helps protects cells from damage by free radicals. Free radicals can damage tissues and organs in the body.
- Vitamin E may play a role in preventing chronic disease such as heart disease and cancer but this is still being studied.
- Research does not support taking vitamin E supplements for the prevention of chronic disease. Most Canadians can get the vitamin E they need from foods.
How Much Vitamin E Should I Aim For?
|Age in Years||Aim for an intake of
milligrams (mg) /day**
|Men and Women
19 and older
19 and older
19 and older
**this amount includes sources of vitamin E from fortified food and supplements
Vitamin E Content of Some Common Foods
Vitamin E is found mainly in foods that contain fat like margarine, vegetable oil, wheat germ, nuts, nut butters, and seeds. The following table shows you foods which are sources of vitamin E.
|Food||Serving size||Vitamin E (mg)|
|Vegetables and Fruits|
|Spinach, cooked||125 mL (½ cup)||2-4|
|Dandelion greens, raw||250 mL (1 cup)||2|
|Tomato sauce, canned||125 mL (½ cup)||2|
|Swiss chard, cooked||125 mL (½ cup)||2|
|Turnip greens, cooked||125 mL (½ cup)||2|
|Pepper, red, cooked||125 mL (½ cup)||2|
|Cereal, wheat germ, toasted||30 g (¼ cup)||5|
|Milk and Alternatives||This food group contains very little of this nutrient.|
|Meat and Alternatives|
|Egg, cooked||2 large||2-3|
|Fish and Seafood|
|Eel, cooked||75 g (2 ½ oz)||4|
|Halibut, cooked||75 g (2 ½ oz)||2|
|Herring, cooked||75 g (2 ½ oz)||2|
|Sardines, canned with oil||75 g (2 ½ oz)||2|
|Tuna, white, canned with oil||75 g (2 ½ oz)||2|
|Nuts and Seeds|
|Almonds, unblanched, without shell||60 mL (¼ cup)||9-10|
|Sunflower seeds, without shell||60 mL (¼ cup)||8-13|
|Almonds, blanched, without shell||60 mL (¼ cup)||2-9|
|Almond butter||30 mL (2 Tbsp)||8|
|Hazelnuts, without shell||60 mL (¼ cup)||5|
|Peanuts, without shell||60 mL (¼ cup)||3|
|Peanut butter||30 mL (2 Tbsp)||3|
|Pine nuts||60 mL (¼ cup)||3|
|Brazil nuts||60 mL (¼ cup)||2|
|Meatless (fish sticks, wiener, chicken), cooked||75 g (2 ½ oz)||1-3|
|Meatless, luncheon slices||75 g (2 ½ oz)||2|
|Fats and Oils|
|Vegetable oil, wheat germ||5 mL (1 tsp)||7|
|Vegetable oil (sunflower, safflower)||5 mL (1 tsp)||2|
Source: “Canadian Nutrient File 2010”
[accessed March 23, 2012]
Dietary Guidelines for Alzheimer’s Prevention
Seven dietary and lifestyle guidelines to boost brain health and reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s are available as an online advance on May 16, 2014, as a special supplement in Neurobiology of Aging.
“Alzheimer’s disease isn’t a natural part of aging,” notes lead author Neal Barnard, M.D., president of the nonprofit Physicians Committee and an adjunct professor of medicine at the George Washington University School of Medicine. “By staying active and moving plant-based foods to the center of our plates, we have a fair shot at rewriting our genetic code for this heart-wrenching , and costly, disease.”
Alzheimer’s Disease International predicts Alzheimer’s rates will triple worldwide by 2050. The Alzheimer’s Association predicts long-term care costs start at $41,000 per year.
The seven guidelines to reduce risk of Alzheimer’s disease are:
- Minimize your intake of saturated fats and trans fats. Saturated fat is found primarily in dairy products, meats, and certain oils (coconut and palm oils). Trans fats are found in many snack pastries and fried foods and are listed on labels as “partially hydrogenated oils.”
- Eat plant-based foods. Vegetables, legumes (beans, peas, and lentils), fruits, and whole grains should replace meats and dairy products as primary staples of the diet.
- Consume 15 milligrams of vitamin E, from foods, each day.Vitamin E should come from foods, rather than supplements. Healthful food sources of vitamin E include seeds, nuts, green leafy vegetables, and whole grains. Note: The RDA for vitamin E is 15 milligrams per day.
- Take a B12 supplement. A reliable source of B12, such as fortified foods or a supplement providing at least the recommended daily allowance (2.4 micrograms per day for adults), should be part of your daily diet. Note: Have your blood levels of vitamin B12 checked regularly as many factors, including age, impair absorption.
- Avoid vitamins with iron and copper. If using multivitamins, choose those without iron and copper, and consume iron supplements only when directed by your physician.
- Choose aluminum-free products. While aluminum’s role in Alzheimer’s disease remains a matter of investigation, those who desire to minimize their exposure can avoid the use of cookware, antacids, baking powder, or other products that contain aluminum.
- Exercise for 120 minutes each week. Include aerobic exercise in your routine, equivalent to 40 minutes of brisk walking, three times per week.
Other preventive measures, such as getting a minimum of seven hours of sleep each night and participating in 30 to 40 minutes of mental activity most days of the week, such as completing crossword puzzles, reading the newspaper, or learning a new language, can only help boost brain health.
“We spend trillions of dollars each year on failed drug trials,” notes study author Susan Levin, M.S., R.D., C.S.S.D., Physicians Committee director of nutrition education. “Let’s take a portion of these funds and invest in educational programs to help people learn about foods that are now clinically proven to be more effective in fighting this global epidemic.”
The preliminary guidelines to reduce risk of Alzheimer’s were formed at the International Conference on Nutrition and the Brain in Washington on July 19 and 20, 2013.
The full guidelines are available at Neurobiology of Aging.
Learn how to prevent Alzheimer’s with these seven tips for brain health.
Vegans Have Less Stress and Anxiety
November 26, 2014
A vegan diet may lower your stress and anxiety levels, according to a study published online in Nutritional Neuroscience. Researchers surveyed 620 vegans, vegetarians, and omnivores about mood. Increased fruit and vegetable intake resulted in lower anxiety scores for male vegan participants, compared with nonvegans. Female vegan participants experienced reduced stress levels as a result of their animal-free diets as well as their lower intakes of sweets.
Beezhold B, Radnitz C, Rinnie A, DiMatteo J. Vegans report less stress and anxiety than omnivores. Nutr Neuroscir. Published online on November 21, 2014.
Breaking Medical News is a service of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, 5100 Wisconsin Ave., Ste. 400, Washington, DC 20016, 202-686-2210. Join the Physicians Committee and receive the quarterly magazine, Good Medicine.
Plant-Based Diet Improves Inflammation
A plant-based diet may reduce inflammation, according to a study published online in Nutrition Research. Researchers examined the nutrient intake for 63 overweight or obese participants following vegan, vegetarian, pesco-vegetarian, or omnivorous diet. Those assigned to the vegan or vegetarian groups consumed more fiber and less cholesterol and saturated fat. They also experienced lower dietary inflammation scores compared to those on nonvegetarian or semivegetarian diets. A high-fiber, low-fat, plant-based diet may prevent and help treat chronic diseases linked with inflammation, including rheumatoid arthritis, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain forms of cancer.
Turner-McGrievy GM, Wirth MD, Shivappa N, et al. Randomization to plant-based dietary approaches leads to larger short-term improvements in Dietary Inflammatory Index scores and macronutrient intake compared to diets that contain meat. Nutr Res. Published online on December 2, 2014.
Breaking Medical News is a service of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, 5100 Wisconsin Ave., Ste. 400, Washington, DC 20016, 202-686-2210. Join the Physicians Committee and receive the quarterly magazine, Good Medicine.
For those unfamiliar with Dr. Esselstyn’s work, check out:
- Cavities and Coronaries: Our Choice
- Fully Consensual Heart Disease Treatment
- Evidence-Based Medicine or Evidence-Biased?
- One in a Thousand: Ending the Heart Disease Epidemic
Kempner was a lifestyle medicine pioneer. What’s lifestyle medicine? See, for example:
- Lifestyle Medicine: Treating the Causes of Disease
- Convincing Doctors to Embrace Lifestyle Medicine
- What Diet Should Physician’s Recommend?
Lots more videos on Kempner’s accomplishments coming up—stay tuned! If you haven’t subscribed to daily, weekly, or monthly videos you can subscribe for free at http://nutritionfacts.org/subscribe