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What is Vitamin E

Vitamin E belongs to the fat-soluble vitamins and is essential for the proper functioning of the human body.

From a chemical point of view, the term vitamin E includes a group of compounds, consisting of alpha, beta, c, d-tocopherols and alpha, beta, c, d-tocotrienols, with alpha-tocopherol being the most studied so far.

Vitamin E is one of the most powerful antioxidants for the human body, along with other micronutrients such as vitamin A, vitamin C, selenium, etc.

Vitamin E Food Sources

Foods high in vitamin E are:

Food (100gr)MgDV (%)
Wheat germ oil149 mg996%
Sunflower seeds35 mg234%
Almonds26 mg171%
Hazelnut oil47 mg315%
Sunflower oil41 mg274%
Almond oil39 mg261%
Hazelnuts15 mg100%
Peanuts8.3 mg56%
Olive Oil14.3 mg72%
Pine nuts9.3 mg62%
Salmon1.1 mg8%
Kiwifruit1.5 mg10%
Mango0.9 mg6%
Brazil nuts5.7 mg38%
Avocado2.1 mg14%

Vitamin E Health Benefits

Vitamin E is an antioxidant that protects membranes and other important cellular structures of polyunsaturated fatty acids from free radicals and oxidation products.

It works in conjunction with dietary selenium (a cofactor of glutathione peroxidase) and together with vitamin C and other enzymes such as superoxide dismutase and catalase.

Related: Bioptimizers MassZymes 3.0 Review – Best Enzymes Supplement?

Some of Vitamin E’s most notable health benefits are:

Vitamin E And Skin

Vitamin E, due to its protective role against the action of free radicals, is one of the main nutrients, which we recommend to increase the intake in order to improve skin health.

It has been found to have a protective effect against UVB rays, as well as in the prevention of hyperpigmentation.

However, regarding the use of vitamin E externally on the skin, especially oily skin, we must be particularly careful, because it can even cause acne.

In the scientific literature, there is a plethora of studies that have looked for a link between oxidative damage and the development of degenerative disorders and diseases.

Numerous studies have evaluated the effect of vitamin E, alone or in combination with other antioxidants, in preventing or reducing oxidative damage associated with the development or progression of:

  • Cancer
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Catarract
  • Alzheimer’s disease

Vitamin E And Cancer

Although one would expect the literature to clearly demonstrate that vitamin E has an anti-cancer effect, the results so far are contradictory for all the different types of cancer.

Intervention studies have shown:

  • Reduced risk of stomach and esophageal cancer in China;
  • no change in recurrence of colorectal cancer in the USA;
  • improvement in precancerous oral lesions in the USA;
  • reduced incidence and mortality from prostate cancer but not lung cancer in Finland.
  • 17 % increase in prostate cancer in the SELECT study.

The confusing results from a plethora of studies, in relation to the anti-cancer effect of vitamin E, are probably due to the different forms of vitamin E, some of which appear to be effective, others not, and need further investigation.

Coronary Heart Disease

Several epidemiological studies had found that increased intake of vitamin E was associated with a reduced risk of coronary heart disease.

However, in a recent meta-analysis, the researchers concluded that there is no evidence for the prevention of cardiovascular disease from the use of vitamin and antioxidant supplements!

Vitamin E And Eyes

Vitamin E supplementation has been linked, in some studies in the past, to delaying the onset and progression of cataracts, without being able to prevent them.

The beneficial effect of vitamin E on the eyes is probably due to its antioxidant activity. In the case of cataracts, however, recent evidence suggests that other antioxidants, but not vitamin E, may help prevent cataracts.

avocado
– Avocado is one of the best sources of Vitamin E

Vitamin E And Brain

Recent data from the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm showed that all forms of vitamin E in plasma may play a role in brain health.

The risk of mild mental impairment (MCI) was 15% and 8% lower in people with higher levels of tocopherols and tocotrienols respectively.

An association between Alzheimer’s disease and MCI was also found, with increased presence of markers of oxidative/nitric damage of vitamin E, in plasma, linking the possible role of vitamin E in neurodegeneration.

Possible protective and beneficial effects in protecting against stroke and against neuronal degeneration, and restoring cognitive function, particularly after stroke, may also be provided by tocotrienols alone.

This is the least studied form of vitamin E and the relevant results come mainly from members of tocotrienol supplement companies, such as Brian See of Carotech Inc.

Nevertheless, the latest conclusions regarding tocotrienols are very encouraging and results from more studies are awaited to confirm them.

Related: Neuroactiv6 Review: Best Brain Boosting Nootropic?

Vitamin E Daily Requirements

The amount recommended to be consumed on a daily basis is called the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA).

The RDA for natural vitamin E in adults and children over 14 years of age is 15 mg (22 IU), during pregnancy 15 mg (22 IU) and during breastfeeding 19 mg (28 IU) [3].

Children under 14 years of age need a lower dose on a daily basis:

  • 1 to 3 years: 6 mg/day
  • 4 to 8 years: 7 mg/day
  • 9 to 13 years: 11 mg/day

It is worth noting that the doses of natural vitamin E and laboratory-prepared vitamin E are calculated differently, which can be confusing when the vitamin is taken through supplementation.

Vitamin E Deficiency

Vitamin E deficiency is generally not clearly recognized as a deficiency syndrome.

In children, deficiency can cause

  • hemolytic anemia,
  • thrombocytosis,
  • increased platelet concentration,
  • intra-abdominal hemorrhage and
  • increased risk of retinopathy.

The only people (children and adults) who show clinical symptoms of vitamin E deficiency are those with severe malabsorption (e.g., in Abetalipoproteinemia, chronic cholestasis, Biliary atresia, and cystic fibrosis) or those with congenital vitamin E deficiency (a rare genetic defect in vitamin E metabolism).

Clinical signs of deficiency include axonal dystrophy, reduced erythrocyte half-life and neuromuscular disorders.

Vitamin E Toxicity And Side Effects

Vitamin E is relatively non-toxic. Absorption decreases rapidly when increasing vitamin E intake, thus avoiding toxic concentrations in tissues.

Most adults can tolerate 100-800mg per day. Doses of up to 3200mg do not appear to have any persistent adverse effects.

Large doses (>1000mg daily for long periods of time) have occasionally been associated with the following side effects:

  • Increased tendency to bleeding in vitamin K deficient patients,
  • alteration in endocrine action (thyroid, adrenal and pituitary)
  • rarely blurred vision,
  • diarrhea,
  • dizziness,
  • fatigue and weakness,
  • gynecomastia,
  • headache
  • nausea

Vitamin E Absorption

The absorption of vitamin E is relatively limited. The efficiency of absorption decreases as doses increase. Normal bile and pancreatic fluid secretion is necessary for maximum absorption.

Maximum absorption occurs in the middle part of the small intestine, whereas in the large intestine, vitamin E is not absorbed to any significant extent.

Vitamin E is initially absorbed through the lymphatic system and is transported into the bloodstream bound to lipoproteins.

More than 90% is carried by low-density lipoproteins (LDL).

There is evidence that a greater amount of the vitamin is transported with high-density lipoproteins (HDL) in women than in men. Vitamin E is stored in all fatty tissues, especially in adipose tissue, liver and muscle.

The main route of removal of vitamin E is the faeces. Typically, less than 1% of the vitamin E supplied orally is removed in the urine.

Absorption is made easier with dietary fat. Medium-chain triglycerides favor absorption, whereas polyunsaturated fats inhibit it. Vitamin E is not very stable. Significant losses from food occur during storage and cooking.

Losses also occur during food processing, especially if there is significant exposure to high temperature and oxygen. In addition, there are significant losses of vitamin E from vegetable oils during cooking.

Water-soluble preparations are superior to fat-soluble preparations in the oral treatment of fat malabsorption syndromes. The bioavailability of natural vitamin E is greater than that of synthetic vitamin E.

Vitamin E Interactions

Medicines

  • Anticoagulants: Large doses of vitamin E may increase anticoagulant activity.
  • Anticonvulsants: Phenobarbital, phenytoin and carbamazepine may reduce plasma vitamin E levels.
  • Cholestyramine or cholestipol: May reduce intestinal absorption of vitamin E.
  • Digoxin: Digoxin requirements may be reduced due to vitamin E (monitoring of drug levels is suggested).
  • Insulin: Insulin requirements may be reduced due to vitamin E (monitoring of drug levels is suggested).
  • Liquid paraffin: May reduce intestinal absorption of vitamin E (long-term use of liquid paraffin should be avoided).
  • Oral contraceptives: May reduce plasma levels of vitamin E.
  • Sucralfate: May reduce intestinal absorption of vitamin E.

Elements

  • Copper: High doses of copper may increase vitamin E requirements.
  • Iron: High doses of iron may increase vitamin E requirements. Also, Vitamin E may inhibit hematological binding of Fe in iron deficiency anemia.
  • Polyunsaturated fatty acids: Dietary need for vitamin E increases when dietary polyunsaturated fatty acids increase.
  • Vitamin A: Vitamin E reduces vitamin A consumption and protects against some symptoms of vitamin A toxicity. Very high levels of vitamin A may increase vitamin E requirements. Excessive doses of vitamin E may reduce vitamin A.
  • Vitamin C: Vitamin C may reduce vitamin E consumption; vitamin E may correspondingly reduce vitamin C consumption.
  • Vitamin K: High doses of vitamin E (1200mg daily) increase the vitamin K requirement in patients taking anticoagulants.
  • Zinc: Zinc deficiency can lead to low plasma levels of vitamin E in plasma.

Vitamin E Supplements

Vitamin E is available in tablets and capsules and is a component of multivitamin preparations. Dietary supplements provide between 10 and 1000mg as a daily dose.

IMPORTANT
Vitamin E supplements should be avoided in patients taking oral anticoagulants (increased bleeding tendency), in iron deficiency anemia (vitamin E may interfere with hematological binding to iron) and in hyperthyroidism (Marchioli et al, 1999).

BrandAmountMg/Serving
1️⃣Nature Made300 softgels180 mg
2️⃣Nature’s Bounty296 drops222 mg
3️⃣Sundown100 softgels180mg
4️⃣Thorne Research60 gelcaps335 mg
5️⃣Life Extension60 softgels554 mg

FAN FACT
A recent study in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, analyzing dietary data in men and women over a 20-year period (1986-2006), showed that while overall intake of dietary supplements, particularly vitamin D, folate and fish oils increased, intakes of vitamin A, beta-carotene, vitamin C and vitamin E decreased.

Final Take

In order to draw a conclusion from the above review, we would like to point out the necessity of vitamin E intake through diet and, in particular cases, through supplements.

It is one of the essential antioxidants for the human body.

Those who live in Greece have the luxury of having plenty of it in their diet, especially with good quality and raw olive oil. As far as the exact scientific data on its beneficial effects on some systems of the human body are concerned, because the information is controversial, this need not be an inhibiting factor in its intake.

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