Q&A: How Much Vitamin E To Add When Regularly Feeding PUFAs, Fish Oil & Fish/Seafood


I picked up a bottle of Eskimo-3 fish oil caps today and wanted to know the dosing. I do add fish (EcoPawz Sardine Grind or SFRAW Seafood Medley) to their meals but felt they needed a bit more. With the additional fish oil, how much vitamin E should I add? Thanks! – Julie


Hi Julie, Good question! I’m happy to answer. 🙂

The AAFCO recommends that balanced fish oil containing diets be supplemented with 10 IU of vitamin E for every gram of fish oil per kg of diet, and their proposed nutrient profiles provides additional information regarding the addition of PUFAs in the diet.

“It is recommended that the ratio of IU of vitamin E to grams of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) be > 0.6:1. A diet containing 50 IU of vitamin E will have a ratio of > 0.6:1 when the PUFA content is 83 grams or less. Diets containing more than 83 grams of PUFA should contain an additional 0.6 IU of vitamin E for every gram of PUFA.”

“Add 10 IU Vitamin E above the minimum concentration for each gram of fish oil per kilogram of diet.”

Source: Pet_Food_Report_2013_Midyear-Proposed_Revisions_to_AAFCO_Nutrient_Profiles

Most canine nutritionists provide the general recommendation of supplementing with 400 IU of vitamin E for every 1,000 mg of fish oil/PUFA – which is a recommendation I like because it’s easy for most people to calculate/follow, and I agree with this level of supplementation for the safe use of these two supplements (fish oil & vitamin E).

Like most high quality fish oil supplements, the Eskimo-3 oil contains a tocopherol complex in the ingredient listing. This is included as an antioxidant to maintain the stability and integrity of the product and prevent oxidation of this fragile substance. You’ll notice the vitamin E level is not listed on the label that provides nutritional analysis information because the vitamin E added is merely used as a natural preservative and not sufficient for additional supplementation. Typically, the gamma and/or delta (listed as “mixed”) forms are used in this case. These forms, as included in fish oil supplements, cannot be used to meet your dog’s vitamin E requirements, particularly when you are feeding fish and supplementing with fish oil on a regular, frequent and/or ongoing basis. Therefore, you will need to provide adequate amounts of the proper forms of Vitamin E to maintain health over the long-term when frequently feeding fish and PUFAs such as fish oil to dogs.

I suggest incorporating a high quality Vitamin E supplement when feeding fish oil & fish that provides a broad spectrum of natural tocopherols and tocotrienols (there are 8 known forms). In my opinion, the biggest challenge here is sourcing a supplement that includes all of the various forms, is natural and soy-free, bioavailable, free of contaminants/truly safe and made with care from a high quality supplement or food manufacturer, and sourced from a trusted country of origin (nearly all Vitamin E supplements originate from China, even if the final manufacturing occurs in the US).

After much research and concern over quality, safety and the provenance of vitamin E supplements, I have started using and recommending an organic natural form of Red Palm Oil for vitamin E supplementation from Nutiva. There are several other brands that are also very good – so you don’t need to get the Nutiva brand necessarily. Just do your research to ensure what you are buying is of the highest caliber possible, as it is vital to get this from a reputable source that meets high environmental, quality and fair labor standards. I really like Nutiva products and the company, but they are not the only brand that produces a safe and exceptional Red Palm Oil product.

Red Palm Oil is a wonderful food that provides the full spectrum of tocopherols (natural vitamin E) including tocotrienols, and is rich in natural carotenoids (vitamin A) and the antioxidant CoEnzyme Q10, which supports healthy mouth/teeth and cardiac function. If you buy from a reputable source that is harvesting organic Red Palm fruit in an area that is not negatively impacting the local wildlife and ecosystems, and working with the local economy to support fair labor, this is a superior way to supplement with a natural form of vitamin E when feeding fish & fish oils with a pleasant boost of additional health benefitting antioxidants!

Depending on which source you refer to, the nutritional profile information for red palm oil can vary significantly. So unless you get a nutritional analysis profile from the manufacturer of a specific batch of product, we will need to make some basic assumptions and generalizations within a range of possibilities when comparing the various well-respected brands of organic, unrefined red palm oils on the market. Remember that this is a FOOD (nutritional values of real, natural food will always vary) that is sourced from different regions and handled differently by the different manufacturers, so the best you can do is consider the range of these beneficial nutrients that you may be working with. In my opinion, feeding non-standardized, natural food based supplements provides safer and better results than synthetic or highly synthesized, yet standardized, supplements. This is a personal preference. I realize that others may find a natural yet standardized supplement more comforting for the reliability and consistency of the target nutrient being provided through supplementation.

Most sources I have seen state that Red Palm Oil is composed of 30 percent tocopherols and 70 percent tocotrienols; providing more than/over 800 mg/kg of natural tocotrienols and tocopherols.

For example, below please find another source I found provding vitamin E levels found in a popular brand of red palm oil, followed by a paper that investigates how refining palm oil can alters the vitamin E levels found in this food.

1 TBLS of red, unrefined palm oil contains approximately 23 IU of Vitamin E.

Breakdown of Vitamin E composition per tablespoon of unrefined palm oil %/IUs:

alpha-tocopherol (alpha-T): 17% (2.38-3.91 IU)

alpha-tocotrienol alpha-T3): 24% (3.36-5.5 IU)

alpha-tocomonoenol (alpha-??): 3% (.42-.69 IU)

gamma-tocotrienol (gamma T3): 49% (6.86-11.27 IU)

delta-tocotrienol (delta T3): 7% (.98-1.61 IU)

Refining, bleaching and deodorizing reduces Vitamin E content by ~20%


“Palm oil contains 600-1000 ppm of vitamin E”

– Source: The_Effect_of_Physical_Refining_on_Palm_Vitamin_E_(Tocopherol_Tocotrienol_and_Tocomonoenol

Red Palm Oil is food and can be fed safely as such. The only concern you would need to have for “overdoing it” is your pet’s tolerance for digesting fat (in general), if they enjoy the flavor (most love it, but some do not like it at all), as well as rare circumstances where an individual may have an allergic or negative reaction (it is not a high allergen food, so this would be rare, but it is always possible with any substance).

When using it as a food based supplement to accompany fish and fish oil supplements, simply scoop a bit of the oil to add it to their meals every time you feed fish or fish oil. You can feed it at room temperature or melt it – either way is fine. I am very conservative with supplementation in general, and so my recommendations for feeding (below) start low. You may decide to increase the amounts given, so long as your dog enjoys and tolerates eating more of this nutrient dense fat.

Daily feeding rates for Red Palm Oil, I suggest starting with:

small dogs, 1/2 tsp.

medium sized dogs, 1 tsp.

large dogs, 2 tsp.

I’d also like to refer all interested in reading more about Red Palm Oil to an excellent discussion and review of different brands done by Evita Ochel which can be found here.

Hope this helps! Let me know if you have any other questions.

2 thoughts on “Q&A: How Much Vitamin E To Add When Regularly Feeding PUFAs, Fish Oil & Fish/Seafood

  1. Thanks Kassie! This is something I’ve been thinking about. But I am confused about measurement. The salmon oil I have says that 1 pump=3.5 ml or .12 fl oz., both liquid measurements, while the recommendations you refer to are in mg, which I believe is a solid measurement?

    I have been giving Mia 2 pumps of the salmon oil, so 7 ml. (which is 670 DHA and 320 EPA) per week, plus usually two or three sardines and maybe six anchovies per week. As for vitamin E, she gets 1/2 t. of Red Palm Oil and 1/2 t. of 100 % wheat germ oil per day, plus usually an egg every day. Does it seem like I am I in the ballpark in as far as the balance between vitamin E and fish?

    Thanks so much!