Your MUFA + PUFA Intakes Determine Your True Vitamin E Requirements - N-3s are the Worst Offenders + Even MUFAs Need Buffering | Tool to Calculate Your Individual Needs

Nature knows best: Oils and other high PUFA foods come with a naturally high amount of vitamin E (see Fig 1).
As a SuppVersity reader you shouldn't be surprised to hear that there's a link between the amount of highly oxidizeable polyunsaturated fatty acids (omega-3 and omega-6) you consume and the amount of vitamin E you "need" to protect them from being oxidized by free radicals.

The reason we usually speak about vitamin E in this context is that vitamin E (mostly alpha-tocopherol) is recognized as a if not the key essential lipophilic antioxidant in humans. It protects lipoproteins (cholesterol), PUFA, cellular and intra-cellular membranes from damage.
Learn more about hormesis and potential neg. effects of antioxidants at the SuppVersity

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For a recent review, scientists from DSM Nutraceuticals in Brussels and the Human Development and Health Academic Unit at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Southampton partnered up in order to "evaluate the relevant published data about vitamin E requirements in relation to dietary PUFA intake" (Raederstorff. 2015).
Table 1: Overview of the currently recommended daily intakes for vitamin E (Monsen. 2000).
For their 10-page review, which does not take into account the interactions between tocopherols, the 'classic' vitamin E, and tocotrienols (this is not really negligent, because only the tocopherols are essential and the interactions between the different forms of vitamin E are not fully elucidated, yet), the scientists considered both evidence from animal and human studies; evidence that indicates that our basal requirement of vitamin E, namely 4–5 mg/d of RRR-α-tocopherol when the diet is very low in PUFA, are way below the RDA of 15mg/day. Now obviously, most Westerners do not fall into the category of people with a "minimal intake of PUFA". Accordingly, their vitamin E requirements are higher, and thus probably in the range of the recommended daily allowance.
You don't even have to consume exuberant amounts of anti-oxidants like vitamin E to ruin your gains. A recent study shows: Icebaths will do the same. By soothing the inflammatory response to exercise, they will also shut down the adaptational processes | learn more
I am healthy, I don't have to care! If you really believe that, you may be healthy but stupid. Even the healthiest person on earth will produce free radical specimen. In fact, ROS are essential for the adaptational processes that occur in response to exercise and involved in normal glucose regulation. On the other hand, very recent scientific evidence highlights that adequate cellular vitamin E levels are necesssary for muscle membrane repair and the rescue of myocytes from necrosis (Howard. 2011; Labazi. 2015). Scientists believe that these benefits are the result of an increased speed and efficacy of membrane repair mechanisms like membrane fusion events. It should thus be obvious that managing, not worshipping or annihilating ROS with adequate amounts of vitamin E and other anti-oxidants should be your primary goal (one you can achieve w/out supps).
Still, the fact that our basal vitamin E requirements, i.e. the amount of vitamin E we would need if we didn't stuff ourselves with tons of PUFAs, amounts to only ~30% of today's RDA (see Table 1) for adult men and women should make us reconsider the necessity and usefulness of vitamin E supplements. I mean, who of you is actually consuming 30g of MUFA, and 22g of PUFA from sources that do not come with adequate amounts of vitamin E?
Figure 1: All suggested oils from the "Quest for the Optimal Cooking Oil"-Article from December 2014 contain way more vitamin E than they'd need to buffer their own PUFA / MUFA content (learn more about the best cooking oils).
If you look at the data in Figure 1, which is a comparison of the actual content of vitamin E in mg and the amount of vitamin E that would be necessary to buffer the "unstable" fats in the three oils you will remember from the "Quest for the Optimal Cooking Oil", the answer to the previously raised question is probably going to be "very few". After all, most of the largely unprocessed we consume contain way more than 100% of the amount of vitamin E they would have to provide to protect the inherent MUFAs and PUFAs from oxidation.

Each unsaturated fatty acid has its specific effect on your vitamin E requirements

Against that background it is no wonder that vitamin E deficiency is a more of less unheard of thing in the Western world. No one here consumes less than the absolute minimum of 4-5mg/day (Harris. 1963; Valk. 2000) for months or longer. The only way to still develop relative vitamin E deficiency is thus to consume processed foods or supplements that do not contain enough vitamin E to satisfy the increase in vitamin E demands due to the specific unsaturation of their fat content.
Table 2: Vitamin E requirements - in mg of vitamin E per gram intake of the respective fatty acid - for different unsaturated fatty acids found in human diets (Raederstorff. 2015)
Since the latter increases almost linearly with the degree of unsaturation of the PUFA in the relative ratios of 0·3, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 for mono-, di-, tri-, tetra-, penta- and hexaenoic fatty acids, respectively, Harris' & Norris' (1963), as well as Horwitt's (1986) equations, which do not take into account that omega-3 fatty acids, for example, have a much more pronounced impact on your vitamin E requirements than omega-6s or MUFAs, are now obsolete.
Equation 1: Use this equation or the SV Calculator to determine your personal requirements based on your intakes of  different forms of mono- (M1 and polyunsaturated (M2-6) fatty acids (Equ. from Raederstorff. 2015).
Today, Equation 1 has taken their place. In Equ. 1 Mn is the amount of dietary MUFA/PUFA with n double bonds in grams (see Table 2). If you know how much of the individual unsaturated fats you consume you can thus easily calculate your personal vitamin E requirements - requirement, of which I bet that you will cover them with the vitamin E from cooking and salad oils, alone (compare Figure 1).
Chicken legs, old man? Must have been too much antioxidants - Learn how too much vitamin C + E can blunt the increases in total lean body mass, and leg mass in elderly men after 12 weeks of highly standardized, intense strength training: No wonder, the vitamins virtually suffocated the necessary stressors | read more.
Bottom line: I guess you are already waiting for the link to the calculator I promised, right? Let's just briefly put the result that even the average westerner needs "only" 12-20 mg of natural vitamin E per day into perspective. On the one hand, that's more than you'd find in a few really trashy foods people like to eat. On the other hand, that's only 17-30IU/day and thus 13-24x the amount of vitamin E you will find in many multi-vitamin, and vitamin E pills (many contain 400IU or 269mg), which appaers hilarious considering the fact that whole foods that are high in unsaturated fats will always come with the required amount of vitamin E.

If that does not sooth your mind and you want to know exactly how much your need, here's the spreadsheet I promised. I am sure it's significantly less than the >120mg/day that impaired the size gains of the elderly subjects in the recently discussed study by Bjornsson. It's much less, right? Comment on Facebook!
  • Monsen, Elaine R. "Dietary reference intakes for the antioxidant nutrients: vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium, and carotenoids." Journal of the American Dietetic Association 100.6 (2000): 637-640.
  • Harris, Philip L., and Norris D. Embree. "Quantitative consideration of the effect of polyunsaturated fatty acid content of the diet upon the requirements for vitamin E." The American journal of clinical nutrition 13.6 (1963): 385-392.
  • Howard, Amber C., Anna K. McNeil, and Paul L. McNeil. "Promotion of plasma membrane repair by vitamin E." Nature communications 2 (2011): 597.
  • Horwitt, M. K. "Interpretations of requirements for thiamin, riboflavin, niacin-tryptophan, and vitamin E plus comments on balance studies and vitamin B-6." The American journal of clinical nutrition 44.6 (1986): 973-985.
  • Labazi, Mohamed, et al. "The antioxidant requirement for plasma membrane repair in skeletal muscle." Free Radical Biology and Medicine 84 (2015): 246-253.
  • Raederstorff, Daniel, et al. "Vitamin E function and requirements in relation to PUFA." British Journal of Nutrition (2015): 1-10.
  • Valk, and Gerard Hornstra. "Relationship between vitamin E requirement and polyunsaturated fatty acid intake in man: a review." International Journal for Vitamin and Nutrition Research 70.2 (2000): 31-42.
Disclaimer:The information provided on this website is for informational purposes only. It is by no means intended as professional medical advice. Do not use any of the agents or freely available dietary supplements mentioned on this website without further consultation with your medical practitioner.