Vitamin E might not get the notoriety of its counterparts, such as vitamins A, B, C, and D, but it is an equally important powerhouse vitamin, with many proven benefits. What are those benefits, and how can you get more vitamin E in your life?
Here’s some information on the different types of vitamin E, along with eight of the most important ways it can help your overall health – and possible signs you might have a deficiency.
Different Types of Vitamin E
You can find vitamin E oil and vitamin E supplements in just about any grocery or health food store. But did you know there are many different forms of the vitamin? There are actually eight different vitamin E compounds. Each is derived from plants, and each provides unique antioxidant benefits.1
There are two types of vitamin E: tocopherols and tocotrienols. Each type has four isomers, called alpha, beta, gamma and delta. Alpha-Tocopherol is the form that most people are familiar with when it comes to vitamin E’s health benefits. Other isomers provide other benefits. For example, alpha-tocotrienol protects brain cells from dying in patients who have suffered a stroke.2,3
The Great Eight
Whether you use vitamin E oil, take vitamin E supplements, or prefer to get it from food, make sure you have an ample supply of this healthful vitamin in your body. Here are eight reasons to do so:
1. Cardiovascular Support
If too much cholesterol accumulates in your arteries, serious health issues can result. Studies show that gamma-tocotrienol helps to keep that from happening. It does so by inhibiting the production of an enzyme (known as HMG-CoA reductase) that controls the production of cholesterol. Gamma-tocotrienol helps keep cholesterol from forming – and as a result, it helps prevent cardiovascular problems, such as hardening of the arteries.4
Evidence also suggests that vitamin E might help prevent the development of blood clots that could result in severe cardiovascular damage.5 In one study involving nearly 90,000 people, researchers found that participants with the highest vitamin E intake over the longest period of time were significantly less likely to suffer from heart disease.6
2. Antioxidant Properties
Oxidation is a natural chemical process within the body, but sometimes, it can cause big problems. For instance, oxidation creates harmful free radicals. Free radicals are oxygen molecules that are missing an electron, and they want to replace it. So they scavenge your body, trying to find another electron. They don’t care if they take it from a muscle cell or a tissue cell. When this happens, that can lead to severe damage.7
Researchers have found that vitamin E isomers have antioxidant properties that can actually help stop damage due to free radicals. There is also evidence showing they can help slow the aging process in cells, as well.8
3. Help for Damaged Skin
Vitamin E oil can help strengthen the capillary walls of the skin. This, in turn, helps protect it from the effects of inflammation, while also increasing elasticity and moisture.9 Vitamin E can also help reduce the itching, flaking, and dryness that occur in people suffering from certain skin conditions. Vitamin E supplements, according to one study, have been proven to help improve eczema symptoms.10
Another severe skin condition is known as psoriasis. It often causes red patches or scales on the skin, as well as soreness, burning, and itching. It can even make joints stiff and swollen. There is some evidence that vitamin E could help reduce psoriasis symptoms.12
4. Help to Achieve Hormonal Balance
Research suggests that vitamin E might play a role in helping your hormones stay in balance.13 Hormonal imbalance can lead to many different health issues, including weight fluctuations, muscle weakness, skin changes, fatigue, and frequent urination.14
5. Reduction in Premenstrual Syndrome Symptoms
Vitamin E supplements could help reduce the discomfort associated with premenstrual syndrome, or PMS. These include depression, anxiety, and cravings for food. One study involved women who took vitamin E two days before their period started. They continued using the vitamin three days into their period. The women who used vitamin E reported less discomfort than study participants who received a placebo.15
6. Helps Improve Vision
One of the most common health issues associated with aging is loss of vision. Cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (AMD) are two of the biggest culprits. While the exact causes of these problems are not known, it is believed that oxidation plays a role. Research suggests that compounds containing vitamin E may help provide relief to people suffering from these conditions.16
One study found that people who have a high intake of vitamin E are at a 20 percent lower risk of developing AMD than those who don’t get as much of the vitamin.17 Another study involved people at high risk for AMD. According to the results, participants who took vitamin E supplements in conjunction with other supplements (including zinc, vitamin C, and copper) lowered their risk of developing the condition by as much as 25 percent.18
7. Protection From Cognitive Decline
There is evidence that suggests vitamin E could help to slow the progress of cognitive decline. This is another area where the antioxidant properties of vitamin E are so important. Researchers believe that free radicals can damage neurons in the brain, leading to cognitive damage. But some studies suggest that vitamin E supplements, or increased intake through food, could provide protection.19
A clinical trial supports this belief. According to one study, a combination of vitamins E and C could help to reduce the chances of developing certain neurodegenerative issues. Patients suffering from cognitive problems who received vitamin E, in conjunction with an enzyme blocker, saw a substantial delay in functional deterioration.20
8. Improvements in Endurance and Strength
Studies show that vitamin E may also help you ward off fatigue and lower the amount of stress placed on your muscles during exercise. Researchers have found that vitamin E helps stimulate increased blood circulation, and it also helps cells absorb the nutrition they need in order to maintain peak performance.21
Sources of Vitamin E
Many foods are natural sources of vitamin E, including safflower, sunflower, corn, and soybean oils.
Peanuts, almonds, and some seeds (especially sunflower, pumpkin, and sesame seeds) are also rich in the vitamin.
Spinach, broccoli, and other green vegetables contain the vitamin, too. Fruits, including avocado and apricots, also contain notable amounts. Additionally, some food products are fortified with vitamin E, meaning the vitamin is added during the manufacturing process. These include some fruit juices, cereals, and certain brands of margarine.22
How much vitamin E do you need? Adults should strive to get 15 mg of vitamin E per day. Although a vitamin E deficiency is relatively rare, it can be a factor in many different diseases. In addition, it can also lead to severe muscle and nerve damage, which can result in weakness, vision problems, and immune system issues.23
Wrapping it Up
Vitamin E can provide powerful benefits for your skin and the rest of your body. This superstar vitamin deserves the hype it gets. If you’re considering adding vitamin E supplements or vitamin E oil to your health regimen, good for you! Just be sure to talk to your doctor first, to make sure you’re taking the right amount. Here’s to your good health!
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