Natural vitamin E is a complex of chemicals that includes alpha, beta, gamma, and delta tocopherols and tocotrienols. The content of these vitamin E molecules varies depending on the food source and plant parts - in vegetarian sources.

In plants, tocopherols are contained in leaves and seeds, whereas tocotrienols are present mostly in the seed. Alpha and gamma tocopherols are the most abundant vitamin E forms in our food. Our body retains the different vitamin E molecules to a varying degree. For example, alpha-tocopherols are 10 times more abundant than gamma-tocopherols in our blood.

Vitamin E Health Benefits?

Most knowledge on vitamin E and its health benefit is based on researches on alpha-tocopherol. Nonetheless, research on the other vitamin E molecules, particularly gamma-tocotrienols and its role on reducing prostate cancer, breast cancer and colon cancer, has picked up recently. Various research reports indicate that the biological role of the vitamers, as antioxidant or other health benefits, may be different.

Vitamin E is a potent antioxidant and scavenger of free radicals. Vitamin E has therefore among other health benefits anti-aging effect.

Vitamin E Food Sources

Vitamin E is not produced by our body and has to be obtained from our food, animal and vegetarian diet. Vegetable oils are the richest sources of tocopherols, -which makes food items such as margarine, shortenings and mayonnaise among the highest providers of gamma-tocopherols in the US diet. Other vitamin E rich sources are palm oil (high in tocotrienols), corn, soybean, flax seed and sesame oils. High fiber food sources such as walnuts, peanuts, pecans, wheat, rice, corn, leafy vegetables, and animal products such as eggs, milk and milk products, and meat are high in vitamin E.

Vitamin E content in food is reduced after cooking or microwaving.

Table 1. Llist of food sources of vitamin E and their vitamin E content (alpha-tocopherol), expressed as mg per 100 g food portion.

Vitamin E food sourcesVitamin E content (alpha-tocopherol) (mg/ 100 g food)
Cereals ready-to-eat, KELLOGG, KELLOGG'S PRODUCT 19 45.00
Cereals ready-to-eat, GENERAL MILLS, TOTAL Corn Flakes 45.00
Oil, vegetable, sunflower, linoleic, (approx. 65%) 41.10
Oil, vegetable safflower, salad or cooking, oleic, over 70% (primary safflower oil of commerce) 34.12
Seeds, sunflower seed kernels, dry roasted, with salt added 26.10
Seeds, sunflower seed kernels, dry roasted, with salt added 26.09
Nuts, almonds 25.86
Cereals ready-to-eat, GENERAL MILLS, TOTAL Raisin Bran 24.55
Vegetable oil, canola 17.07
Cereals ready-to-eat, KELLOGG, KELLOGG'S SPECIAL K 15.29
Nuts, hazelnuts or filberts 15.03
Cereals ready-to-eat, KELLOGG, KELLOGG'S Complete Wheat Bran Flakes 11.93
Nuts, mixed nuts, dry roasted, with peanuts, with salt added 10.93
Nuts, pine nuts, dried 9.35
Snacks, potato chips, plain, unsalted 9.10
Peanuts, all types, dry-roasted, with salt 7.80
Tomato products, canned, paste, without salt added 4.30
Spinach, frozen, chopped or leaf, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt 3.54
Dandelion greens, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt 3.40
Turnip greens, frozen, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt 2.66
Pie crust, standard-type, frozen, ready-to-bake, baked 2.63
Pie crust, cookie-type, prepared from recipe, graham cracker, baked 2.32
Tomato products, canned, sauce 2.08
Spinach, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt 2.08
Sauce, pasta, spaghetti/marinara, ready-to-serve 2.04
Tomato products, canned, puree, without salt added 1.97
Spinach, canned, drained solids 1.94
Turnip greens, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt 1.88
Crustaceans, crab, blue, canned 1.84
Beet greens, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt 1.81
Fast foods, french toast sticks 1.65
Peppers, sweet, red, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt 1.65
Fast Foods, biscuit, with egg and sausage 1.58
Peppers, sweet, red, raw 1.58
Fish, rockfish, Pacific, mixed species, cooked, dry heat 1.56
Broccoli, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt 1.45
Soy milk, fluid 1.35
Broccoli, frozen, chopped, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt 1.32
Carrot juice, canned 1.16
Sweet potato, canned, syrup pack, drained solids 1.15
Mangos, raw 1.12
Pumpkin, canned, without salt 1.06
Sweet potato, canned, vacuum pack 1.00
Soup, tomato, canned, prepared with equal volume water, commercial 0.95
Papayas, raw 0.73