Vitamin E (so called “tocochromanols”) is a fat-soluble vitamin – it is a blanket term for eight different naturally occurring nutrients (4 different tocopherols and 4 different tocotrienols). It is also an antioxidant which can prevent damage to the body’s cells, protecting against free radical damage. In general, antioxidants can provide protection against serious diseases including heart disease and cancer. As it is fat soluble, it offer protection against damage to the fats that line the outside of every cell in human body.
Vitamin E is also important in red blood cells regeneration as well as in vitamin K use by body. Naturally this vitamin can be found in many foods, fats and oils. Vitamin E is a key for strong immune system, healthy skin and eyes.
As tocochromanols are fat-soluble, any disease or medication that impairs the ability to digest fats will also endanger vitamin E nutrition. People who cannot absorb fat properly could experience vitamin E deficiency.
Vitamin E deficiency
Vitamin deficiency symptoms include the following:
Loss of muscle mass,
Abnormal eye movements,
According to health experts the long-term deficiency could cause liver and kidney problems.
Vitamin E deficiency diseases
According to research, people with higher levels of vitamin E have a lower risk of heart disease. At the same time, among healthy people with low risk for heart disease, no protection from vitamin E was noted. These scientific studies generated a lot of controversy and on-going debates.
It was noted that tocochromanols can protect LDL cholesterol (so called “bad cholesterol”) from free radical damage and cumulated LDL in blood vessel walls could create the early stages of hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis).
It is well known that free radicals can cause different types of cancer. At the same time, it is also well known that antioxidants are able to protect body cells from damages, triggered by free radicals. It is becoming obvious that eating foods high in antioxidants (including vitamin E) could help prevent cancer.
Few studies show that people with cancer often have decreased levels of vitamin E. At the same time, some studies show that women who take vitamin E supplements do not have a lower risk of developing breast cancer. Unfortunately evidences about vitamin E and cancer are mixed and controversial. Future serious scientific studies are needed.
Vitamin E benefits
Photodermatitis is actually the allergic type reaction to the UV rays of the sun. UV sensitivity can be reduced with vitamin E. The best protective effect can be reached by the combination of 2 vitamins C and E.
Some studies demonstrated protective effect of natural vitamin-E in developing Alzheimer’s disease. At the same time, vitamin supplements could not protect at early stages of Alzheimer’s disease but could prolong progress of the disease postponing severe symptoms.
Vitamin-E combined with some other antioxidants can protect against developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD) – the leading cause of blindness after 55.
It was also noted that similar combination can be used for uveitis treatment. Uveitis is the inflammation of uvea (middle layer of the eye between the sclera and the retina.
Vitamin-E is recognized as the effective reliever during menstrual cramps (so called “dysmenorrheal”). Just vitamin (500 IU) should be taken 2 days before and 3 days during menstrual period. It can prevent not only menstrual cramps but also PMS symptoms, including anxiety, food cravings and depression.
It was noted that antioxidants can prevent risk of heart disease and other complications in clients with diabetes. Antioxidants can also control blood sugar levels and lower cholesterol levels in people with type 2 diabetes while protecting against the complications of eye damage (retinopathy) and kidney damage (nephropathy) in those with type 1 diabetes.
In some studies vitamin-E was used as antioxidant for preventing diabetes complications.
Vitamin E foods
The richest source of vitamin-E is wheat germ. Other foods that contain a significant amount of vitamin E include fatty fish, liver, eggs, nuts (almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts), sunflower seeds, corn-oil margarine, mayonnaise, cold-pressed vegetable oils (olive, corn, safflower, soybean, cottonseed, canola), dark green leafy vegetables (spinach, kale), cereal grains, greens (beet, collard, mustard, turnip), sweet potatoes, avocado, asparagus and yams.
Many oil rich-plants give us good amounts of vitamin-E (especially olives and avocados). Sea foods are also rich sources of vitamin-E (salmon, cod, shrimps, sardines).
Researchers note that taking antioxidant supplements may not work as well as eating antioxidant foods – getting antioxidants from foods may be the best way to protect against several diseases including cancer.
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Disclaimer: It is strongly recommended to consult your doctor for professional advice. Above mentioned information and recommendations are just general and should be adapted to each person according to personal health indicators and status.