Vitamin E // Tocopherol
The major problem in making recommendations for vitamin E is the dependence on the polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) intake. Across Europe there are wide variations in PUFA consumption. Based on the strong relation between vitamin E requirements and PUFA, recommendations have to take into account the different intake of PUFAs in different population groups. Therefore the recommended intakes are given as the ratio milligram alpha-tocopherol equivalents (mg alpha-TE): 0.4-0.6 mg x g dietary PUFA (60).
However, the old unit for biological activity of vitamin E, ‘International Units’ (IU), is used sometimes (1.00 mg alpha-TE equals 1.49 I.U.).
In view of the difficulty in recommending the amount of vitamin E with the optimal effects on human metabolism, the recommendations for daily vitamin E intake for adults, expressed as milligram alpha-tocopherol equivalents (mg alpha-TE), differ in European countries:
|Country||Males: mg/day||Females: mg/day|
|Italy (1996)||> 8||> 8|
|Nordic countries (2014)||10||8|
|U.K. (1991)||> 4||> 3|
* Germany, Austria and Switzerland
According to EFSA’s newest recommendations, men should consume 13 mg/day α-tocopherol equivalents, while women 11 mg/day (62).
Based on the prevention of deficiency symptoms ─ rather than on health promotion and prevention of chronic disease ─ the U.S. Food and Nutrition Board has set recommended dietary allowance (RDA) values for vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) (2).
In the RDA, revised upward in 2'000, amounts of alpha-tocopherol are expressed in international units (IU) and milligrams (mg) of ‘RRR-alpha-tocopherol’ (also referred to as ’natural‘ or d-alpha-tocopherol); the form of vitamin E found in foods.
|Life Stage||Age||Males: mg/day (IU/day)||Females: mg/day (IU/day)|
|Infants (AI)||0–6 months||4 mg (6 IU)||4 mg (6 IU)|
|Infants (AI)||7–12 months||5 mg (7.5 IU)||5 mg (7.5 IU)|
|Children||1–3 years||6 mg (9 IU)||6 mg (9 IU)|
|Children||4–8 years||7 mg (10.5 IU)||7 mg (10.5 IU)|
|Children||9–13 years||11 mg (16.5 IU)||11 mg (16.5 IU)|
|Adolescents||14–18 years||15 mg (22.5 IU)||15 mg (22.5 IU)|
|Adults||19 years and older||15 mg (22.5 IU)||15 mg (22.5 IU)|
|Pregnancy||all ages||-||15 mg (22.5 IU)|
|Breast-feeding||all ages||-||19 mg (28.5 IU)|
Some scientists think that there exists credible evidence that taking at least 200 IU (134 mg) alpha-tocopherol daily may help protect adults from chronic diseases, such as heart disease, stroke, neurodegenerative diseases, and some types of cancer. The amount of alpha-tocopherol required for such beneficial effects appears to be much greater than that which could be achieved through diet alone (61, 86).
For a detailed overview of recommended daily intakes (PRIs/RDAs) of vitamins and minerals for adults derived from different countries and organizations see PDF.
Authored by Dr Peter Engel in 2010, reviewed and updated by Dr Szabolcs Peter on 18.06.2017