When vitamin E was discovered, the biggest producer of soybean oil was Eastman Kodak, which used the oil in photo processing. After realizing it could extract alpha tocopherol from the oil waste, it began selling it to vitamin producers and remains a leading supplier to this day.
What it is: Vitamin E is a fat-soluble antioxidant. Discovered in 1922, vitamin E was scientifically named tocopherol and was recognized in 1968 as an essential vitamin for humans.
Where it comes from: Though most abundant in wheat germ oil, vitamin E can be found in nuts, seeds, vegetable oils, leafy greens, and fortified cereals. Scientists estimate that as much as two-thirds of human vitamin E intake comes from salad oils, margarine, and shortening, while the rest comes from vegetables and various grains.
Properties: In addition to being found in a variety of foods, pure vitamin E is commonly sold in gel caplets that can be taken orally or popped open and applied topically. There are many different forms of vitamin E, but its natural form is said to be the most potent.
What it’s good for: In addition to its antioxidant properties, vitamin E increases blood circulation and consequently improves blood flow through hair and nail growth structures. It also aids in the formation of red blood cells, helps maintain oil balance in the skin, and helps slow or reverse the effects of sun damage. Vitamin E is also said to minimize wrinkles, though scientific research shows that vitamin E may be harmful if taken in excess.
Where you’ll find it: In addition to occurring naturally in various foods, vitamin E can be found in oils, lotions, and other beauty products. It is also a popular ingredient in a variety of anti-aging treatments and creams.
Other uses: Women with premenstrual syndrome, painful periods, menopause, and hot flashes often use vitamin E to reduce the severity of symptoms or pain. It is also used for preventing late pregnancy complications caused by high blood pressure.