Diabetes Diet: You’re Likely In Short Supply Of This Important Vitamin
A recent nutrition review shows that 90 percent of us in the U.S. are not getting our recommended daily dose of vitamin E.
This is a concern for diabetic individuals since diabetes increases our risk for heart disease, and vitamin E is essential for heart health. Inadequate vitamin E can also lead to vision, kidney, and liver problems, muscle weakness, or loss, and an unsteady gait.
E Deficiency And Diet
The main reason for widespread E deficiency is our typical Western diet that contains an abundance of highly processed foods*. Many highly processed products lack vitamin E, other micronutrients, healthy fats, and antioxidants.
Another reason for inadequate vitamin E intake has to do with the fat content of our diet, or rather, the lack of it.
Vitamin E is fat-soluble; it needs the presence of fat to be absorbed by our body. Those on low-fat diets may consume too little fat to properly utilize the vitamin E in their food, or supplements. Studies show that just 10 percent of the vitamin E in a supplement is assimilated when taken without dietary fat.
People with metabolic syndrome** who are obese are at even greater risk for vitamin E deficiency. This is partly because they need more vitamin E to counter their condition’s increased oxidative stress (free radical production), and because their excess body fat impedes the absorption of lipids transporting vitamin E to their tissues.
Vitamin E Foods
To address vitamin deficiencies supplementation is always an option, but the best source of vitamin E is food since food provides all eight of the vitamin E compounds. Most supplements contain only one of the eight E compounds, usually alpha-tocopherol.
Fortunately, it’s easy to get plenty of vitamin E from a varied diet of whole foods. The three categories of edibles rich in vitamin E are:
- Leafy greens.
- Oil-rich, high-fat plants such as olives, and sliced avocados.
- High-fat foods such as seeds, nuts, and fatty fish/seafood including sardines and shrimps.
Some particularly good vitamin E sources are wheat germ, and sunflower oils, sunflower seeds, almonds, hazelnuts, boiled or steamed broccoli, sliced mango, and raw spinach.
E Supplement Tips
For those who choose to take a supplement bear in mind that synthetic vitamin E has been shown to exert toxic effects at high doses or with long term use. So, consider purchasing a supplement containing all-natural (non-synthetic) ingredients:
- Synthetic forms of vitamin E usually have a designation starting with “dl” (dl-alpha-tocopherol). Non-synthetic versions begin with “d” (d-alpha-tocopherol).
- Vitamin E supplements free from soy or soybean oil are recommended, since compounds in soy can effect hormonal and endocrine functions, and the absorption of certain minerals.
- A supplement containing all four vitamin E tocopherol compounds (alpha, beta, gamma, and delta) is ideal for optimal health benefits.
- The best supplements will also contain the four tocotrienol vitamin E compounds. Although the tocotrienols are often ignored they seem to support balanced cholesterol levels, buffer against free radicals, and the effects of aging, and are good for brain health—a complete vitamin E supplement will include the tocotrienols.
Since vitamin E is formed in various plants that are now primarily genetically modified, those of you who try to avoid GM foods will want to sidestep vitamin E supplements made from corn, soybeans, or cotton seed.
*Food processing is a deliberate alteration to food that takes place during its manufacture. Highly processed foods undergo extensive alterations and often contain added sweeteners, colors, and other additives.
**Metabolic syndrome is a set of symptoms that include excess abdominal fat, high blood pressure, elevated blood sugar, and triglycerides, and low HDL cholesterol.