Vitamin E Overview

Overview

Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin that comes in several forms: alpha, beta, delta, and gamma-tocopherol, and alphatocotrienal. Alphatocopherol has long been considered the most biologically active form of vitamin E supplement, but research suggests that other forms provide benefits that may have been under-appreciated vitamin E’s antioxidant activities play a role in supporting cell life and impart anti-aging effect.

Absorption

Vitamin E is absorbed by intestinal absorption that requires sufficient production of bile salts and pancreatic enzymes.

Dietary Origins

Good sources of vitamin E include nuts, seeds, soybeans, vegetable oils, and wheat germ oil. Other adequate sources are asparagus, avocados, brussels sprouts, leafy greens, spinach, whole grain breads and cereals, and whole wheat products.

Side Effects

On occasion people taking over 1,000 IU daily reported side effects that included double vision, fatigue, gastrointestinal distress, headache, muscular weakness, and nausea.

Functions in the Body

Antioxidant

  • Vitamin E is the body’s most important fat-soluble antioxidant. It insures the integrity of cellular tissues throughout the body by preventing free radical damage.

Blood

  • Decreases platelet adhesion, protects blood vessels, and prevents LDL-cholesterol from being oxidized.

Exercise

  • During heavy exercise, vitamin E markedly reduces the amount of exercise-induced free radical damage to the blood and tissues.

Eyes

  • It helps to protect eyes against cataracts and macular degeneration.

Immune System

  • Vitamin E supplementation enhances the immune system and support resistance to infection.

Symptoms & Causes of Deficiency

Vitamin E is easily destroyed by heat or oxidation during cooking and food processing. Therefore processed foods and fast foods can contribute to depletion of the nutrient. Low Levels of selenium and high intake of polyunsaturated fatty acids both contribute depletion. Symptoms of vitamin E deficiency include:

  • dry skin
  • dull dry hair
  • rupturing of red blood cells resulting in anemia
  • bruising
  • fibrocystic breasts
  • hot flashes
  • eczema
  • psoriasis
  • cataracts
  • benign prostatic hyperplasia
  • poor wound healing
  • muscle weakness
  • sterility


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