Vitamin E is a naturally occurring, fat-soluble essential nutrient known for its antioxidant properties and impact on eye, skin, heart and brain health. Because of its fat-solubility, vitamin E is more readily stored in the body as opposed to water-soluble nutrients. Adequate intake of this vital nutrient aids in regulating immune functions, inhibiting platelet aggregation (clotting), and protecting cells and tissues from oxidative damage1. The body does not produce its own vitamin E, so it must be obtained from supplements or food.
The Traditional Benefits of Vitamin E
Vitamin E supplements also come in natural and synthetic forms. Natural vitamin E is often labeled as d-alpha tocopherol, d-alpha tocopheryl acetate, or d-alpha tocopheryl succinate, and is believed to be absorbed easier by the body. Synthetic vitamin E is labeled dl-alpha tocopheryl, succinate, or acetate. Vitamin E has been shown to help with heart and testosterone support as well as be a key antioxidant in the body.
What is Vitamin E Used For?
Vitamin E may have numerous benefits to the body, including the following: Boosts the Body's Antioxidant Defense System, Naturally Balances Hormones, Improves Immune Functions, Maintains Skin Elasticity, And Prevents Premature Signs of Aging.
Benefits of Vitamin E
Vitamin E plays a major role in the defense system of the body’s cells. This role as a versatile cellular antioxidant means vitamin E is essential to a number of the body’s functions. Vitamin E is essential for heart healthFor those experiencing a considerable level of oxidative stress (cell damage), the risk for conditions like heart disease is increased. Excess production of free radicals have been shown to cause harmful changes to the functions of the heart and play a significant role in heart failure(2). Because Vitamin E is such a powerful antioxidant, it can help boost and support the body’s antioxidant defense system, ridding the body of excess free radicals. Vitamin E is essential to hormonal balanceIn addition to its antioxidant properties, Vitamin E also has properties similar to estrogen, androgen and progesterone. Because of these properties, vitamin E has the ability to act synergistically, helping to naturally balance hormones(3). Vitamin E is essential for the immune systemAs an antioxidant, vitamin E has the ability to improve immune functions. Because cellular immunity decreases with age, proper intake of vitamin E can help slow down this process. High intake of vitamin E has been shown to improve the immune functions of the elderly and those suffering from immune deficiency(4). Vitamin E is essential for healthy skinMaintaining optimal levels of vitamin E is important to maintaining the appearance and elasticity of the skin. Vitamin E levels in the skin begin to drop as we age, contributing to the decline of skin quality. Similar to its other functions, vitamin E helps to protect the skin against cell damage, preventing issues like skin thickness, inflammation and premature signs of aging(5). Unlike its other functions that require vitamin E to be taken orally, the skin can benefit from topical applications of alpha-tocopherol. Vitamin E is a very popular ingredient for skin creams and lotions. Research also suggests that vitamin E has photo-protective properties, helping to shield the skin from UV damage.
How to Use Vitamin E
Aside from topical applications, vitamin E supplements should be taken orally. Synthetic vitamin E supplements are available in capsule and liquid form. Simply take the daily recommended dose as instructed. Because of its fat-solubility, it is best to take vitamin E with a meal containing some type of dietary fat. Although vitamin E deficiency is rather uncommon, there are a few warning signs to look out for. Here are some symptoms of vitamin E deficiency: Disorientation, Vision Problems, Muscle Weakness, Loss of Muscle Mass, Numbness/ Tingling, Skin Damage, Weakened Immune System, And Hair Loss.
Recommended Daily Allowance of Vitamin E
For adults, the recommended daily intake of vitamin E is 15 milligrams. Taking over the recommended allowance of vitamin E can result in nausea, vomiting, headaches and fatigue. Because vitamin E is fat-soluble, it is harder to rid of the body than water-soluble nutrients. High doses of vitamin E have also been found to increase the risk of prostate cancer. High doses of vitamin E are sometimes used to treat conditions like Alzheimer's and other neurological disorders, but only under the supervision of a licensed physician.
Foods that Contain Vitamin E
Although vitamin E is a popular supplement, the best sources of this nutrient can be found in our diet. Vitamin E can be found in a wide variety of foods. These foods include: Olive Oil, Eggs, Mango, Kiwi, Organic Milk, Brazil Nuts, Avocado, Butternut Squash, Red Sweet Pepper, Blackberries, And Raspberries.
Citations and Sources
1. Vitamin E Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. National institute of Health . https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminE-HealthProfessional/. Published August 17, 2018. Accessed January 15, 2019. 2. Tsutsui H, Kinugawa S, Matsushima S. Oxidative stress and heart failure. Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2011;301(6):H2181-90. [PubMed] 3. Sen C, Khanna S, Roy S. Tocotrienol: the natural vitamin E to defend the nervous system? Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2004;1031:127-142. [PubMed] 4. Moriguchi S, Muraga M. Vitamin E and immunity. Vitam Horm. 2000;59:305-336. [PubMed] 5. Keen M, Hassan I. Vitamin E in dermatology. Indian Dermatol Online J. 2016;7(4):311-315. [PMC]
Vitamin D is considered a fat-soluble vitamin and nutrient, which means it is absorbed in the stomach (and throughout the body) and aids in the absorption of calcium. The primary role of vitamin D, along with calcium, is to help the body to produce healthy bones. Although it is not present in many foods, vitamin D can easily be obtained through sun exposure and through supplements.
Vitamin A isn’t a single vitamin, rather it's a group of fat-soluble chemical compounds with similar structures. Vitamin A plays a role in skin, bone and eye health. Getting adequate vitamin A is also critical for supporting immune function.Both animal and plant-based foods contain vitamin A. However, the forms of vitamin A found in plants, carotenoids, need to be converted to the bioactive form retinol before the human body can use them.Deficiency of vitamin A is relatively uncommon in developed countries. It’s more common in pregnant women and children in developing countries.