Vitamin EIt was first discovered by Evans and Bishop in 1922. Vitamin E is not just a vitamin. In fact, vitamin E contains a variety of fat-soluble compounds. Alpha-tocopherol is the most common substance in the human body. Vitamin E is stored in the fat tissue of the body, so it is not necessary to take it every day.
Why We Need Vitamin E
Vitamin E is an essential nutrient that’s important to our vision, reproduction, brain, blood, skin, and immune system. Vitamin E is also a potent antioxidant that helps to fight off free radicals in our cells. Free radicals are the molecules produced after exposure to environmental factors, such as smoking, pollution, UV light, and radiation. Antioxidant vitamins were first discovered in 1980s when they were first linked to the breaking down of our cells. Free radicals may play a part in the development of cancer, heart disease and other ailments as well. Vitamin E has the ability to protect and prevent free radical damage. Vitamin E however, is heavily dependent on vitamin C, vitamin B3, selenium and glutathione, meaning that a diet high in vitamin E isn’t likely to have an optimal effect unless it is consumed with these other nutrients.
Vitamin E deficiencies are, thankfully, rare. Those with deficiencies often have a disease which is linked to fats not being properly digested or absorbed such as Chron’s disease or cystic fibrosis. A vitamin E deficiency can cause muscle and nerve damage that can result in the loss of feeling in limbs, loss of body movement and control, muscle weakness, vision problems and the weakening of the immune system.
Benefits of Vitamin E
Outside of fighting off free radicals and supporting your immune system, vitamin E has a list of other potential benefits.
Can Help Decrease the Risk of Age-Related Cataracts
A study performed in 2015 by the Department of Epidemiology and Health Statistics of the Qingdao University Medical College found that vitamin E intake and high serum-tocopherol levels were linked to a decreased risk of age-related cataracts.
Can Aid in Muscle Repair
The U.S. National Library of Medicine performed a study in 2015 that showed that vitamin E assists in muscle repair after exercise.
A Possible Treatment for Wrinkles and Dark Under-Eye Circles
A study on topical gel containing vitamin E and other vitamins published in the Journal of Aesthetic Dermatology in 2004 found that it can effectively reduce wrinkles and dark circles around the eyes.
May Reduce Period Cramps
In 2004, the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology performed a study on girls taking vitamin E supplements. The girls taking the supplement reported less period discomfort and blood loss.
Possibly Help Delay the Progression of Alzheimer’s
One study shows promise with high-doses vitamin E in that it might delay the progression of Alzheimer's disease in people those diagnosed with mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease.
Assist in Creating Stronger Nails
There is some evidence that vitamin E can help strengthen nails and help them grow as found in a 2016 review in the Indian Dermatology Online Journal.
Sources of Vitamin E
Vitamin E is found in plenty of food sources but it is the most rich in seeds, nuts, and vegetable oils. Here are some of the foods that contain the most vitamin E.
- Wheat Germ Oil
- Sunflower Seeds
Can Vitamin E be Harmful?
Fat-soluble vitamins, like vitamin E, have a higher potential for toxicity than do water-soluble vitamins (like vitamin C). Too much vitamin E can be harmful, though toxicity from diet alone is highly unlikely. Too much vitamin E can cause nausea, diarrhea, stomach cramps, fatigue, weakness, headache, blurred vision, rash, and bruising and bleeding. While vitamin E is likely safe to take in appropriate doses through supplementation, there are, however, possible concerns in relation to high doses of oral supplementation with vitamin E.