Count vitamin E among the good things in life that are hard to come by. This important nutrient isn’t found in many foods, but it plays several key roles throughout the body. It’s a powerful antioxidant that assists with blood sugar management and improves cholesterol levels. Plus, it helps keep your brain young.
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“Vitamin E protects the brain’s nerve cells from damage,” explains Jeffrey Blumberg, professor of nutrition science and policy at Tufts University. “Research shows that vitamin E levels in the blood are lower in people with memory, language and thinking problems.”
The recommended daily intake of vitamin E for most healthy adults is 15 milligrams (mgs), or 22.4 international units (IUs). (Current food labels list amounts in IUs, although in 2020 you’ll start to see labels switch over to mgs, to meet new FDA labeling requirements.)
But you don’t need to keep a calculator handy to meet your targets. Just put these foods in regular rotation throughout your week.
Almonds: Just ¼ cup provides 40 percent of your daily E requirement.
Avocados: What’s good for the heart is good for the brain. Avocados help keep cholesterol levels in check, and one review found heart-healthy diets may help lower the risk for Alzheimer’s disease.
Sunflower seeds: The handy snack promotes smooth blood flow to your brain and heart.
Sunflower oil: It’s rich in a form of vitamin E that helps prevent the loss of a key molecule for brain health (docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA) that the body can’t manufacture on its own.
Swiss chard: In addition to E, this tender green is an excellent source of vitamin K, which will help you remember where you parked your car at the airport.
Whole grains: Once a grain is milled, it loses its E content. Yet another reason to add whole wheat bread and oatmeal to your grocery list.
Learn more about the ways vitamin E fights cognitive decline when you activate your access to Staying Sharp! It’s easy to enroll and is included with your AARP membership.