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Do You Need More

Do You Need MoreEighty years after vitamin E was discovered, Tufts researchers have found that most Americans don't know how to get enough of the important vitamin.

Boston [05.31.02] In the eighty years since its discovery, vitamin E has been credited with a wealth of healthy benefits -- everything from boosting immunity and fighting cancer to reducing the effects of aging. But most Americans aren't getting enough of the powerful antioxidant, say Tufts researchers, because they don't know which foods are good sources of the vitamin.

"An analysis by Tufts University shows that consumers are woefully uninformed on how to meet minimum daily requirements for this important nutrient," reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "To achieve maximum health benefits, people need 15 milligrams per day of alpha-tocopherol -- vitamin E's most potent form."

But many Americans are falling short of the mark, largely due to the food they eat.

"The study says most adults get a daily dose only in small amounts from foods such as white bread, cookies, doughnuts and cakes," reported the newspaper.

Better sources of the vitamin, Tufts nutrition researchers said, include nuts, seeds, whole grain breads and leafy green vegetables including spinach and broccoli.

For example, just a handful of almonds, reported the Journal-Constitution, provides about half of the recommended intake of the alpha-tocopherol form of vitamin E -- which is best used by the body.

The extra "E" could go a long way.

According to researchers at Tufts, the vitamin -- if taken in the right doses -- has been shown to have some important health benefits.

In a clinical study of older adults, Tufts' Dr. Simin Meydani along with Dr. Jeffrey Blumberg found that vitamin E helped boost immune response.

"One of the things we know is that as a person grows older (50 and above), their immune response declines," the nationally-renowned expert on antioxidants and the chief of Tufts' Antioxidant Research Laboratory told the Houston Chronicle. "We have been looking at ways for people to help maintain their immune systems while they age."

Vitamin E appears to work. In the Tufts study, 200 milligrams was an effective dose.

Other studies have shown that the antioxidant can help fight heart disease, reduce the effects of hot flashes during menopause and even slow the effects of Alzheimer's disease and arthritis.

But nutrition experts caution that the nutrient can't reverse the aging process, and it can be harmful if taken in too large a quantity.

Because the vitamin has an anticoagulant effect, Dr. Norman Krinsky -- a biochemistry expert at Tufts -- suggests that adults should not consume more than 1,000 milligrams of vitamin E each day.

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