Benefits & Risks You Should Know About Vitamin E Supplement
Vitamin E is a vital nutrient for good health, and the best way to consume this vitamin is through a healthy diet. vitamin E-rich foods can include treating and preventing diseases of the heart and blood vessels, such as chest pains, high blood pressure, and blocked or hardened arteries. Vitamin E is found only in plant foods, including certain oils, nuts, grains, fruits and wheat germ. It’s also available as a supplement.
So, let’s find out how you can get all these great vitamin E benefits, along with the best vitamin E foods, supplements and the signs of a vitamin E deficiency.
Sources of vitamin E
Vitamin E is a family of fat-soluble compounds. “It occurs naturally in eight different forms, including four tocopherols (alpha, beta, gamma and delta) and four tocotrienols. Alpha tocopherol is the most common and most potent form of the vitamin.
Good dietary sources of vitamin E include nuts, such as almonds, peanuts and hazelnuts, and vegetable oils, such as sunflower, wheat germ, safflower, corn and soybean oils, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM). Sunflower seeds and green, leafy vegetables such as spinach and broccoli also contain vitamin E.
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How much vitamin E do you need?
The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for vitamin E is 15 milligrams (or 22.4 International Units, or IU) for people over age 14, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Women who are breastfeeding may need a little more vitamin E, so the RDA for lactating women is 19 mg (28.4 IU). Doses below 1,000 mg (1,500 IU) seem to be safe for most adults.
For infants up to age 6 months, the RDA is 4 mg (6 IU), and the RDA is 5 mg (7.5 IU) for ages 6 month to one year. From ages 1 to 3 years old, 4 to 8 years old and 9 to 13 years old, the RDAs for vitamin E are 6 mg (9 IU), 7 mg (10.4 IU) and 11 mg (16.4 IU), respectively, according to the NIH.
Most people are able to get enough vitamin E from a healthy diet and do not need supplements. Always consult with a doctor before taking any supplement, especially if you are taking medications. More than 250 medications are known to interact with vitamin E, according to Drugs.com.
Vitamin E deficiency
A vitamin E deficiency is very rare, though some people are more prone to a vitamin E deficiency than others, according to NIH. Infants, people with fat malabsorption and abetalipoproteinemia (a condition that prevents the body from completely absorbing certain dietary fats) are more likely to have vitamin E deficiency. Anemia, skeletal myopathy, ataxia, peripheral neuropathy, retinopathy, impairment of the immune response and nerve damage are signs that there may be a deficiency.
Benefits of Vitamin E
What are the top vitamin E benefits? Supplementing and consuming vitamin E-rich foods has been found to be associated with some of the following health benefits:
1. Balances Cholesterol
Cholesterol is a naturally occurring substance made by the liver and required by the body for the proper function of your cells, nerves and hormones. When cholesterol levels are in their natural state, they’re balanced, normal and healthy. When cholesterol oxidizes, it becomes dangerous. Studies have shown that certain isomers of vitamin E serve as a protective antioxidant that fights cholesterol oxidation. This is because they can fight free radical damage in the body, which leads to cholesterol oxidation.
2. Prevents Disease Development
Free radicals fight and break down the healthy cells in your body, and this can lead to heart disease and cancer. These molecules form naturally in your body, and they can cause severe damage when they accelerate or oxidize. Certain isomers of vitamin E have powerful antioxidant abilities that have the power to reduce free radical damage, fight inflammation and fight off health issues like heart disease.
Studies have shown that these can significantly increase immunity, therefore helping prevent both common illnesses and serious conditions from forming.
3. Repairs Damaged Skin
Vitamin E benefits skin by strengthening the capillary walls and improving moisture and elasticity, acting as a natural anti-aging nutrient within your body. Studies have shown that vitamin E reduces inflammation both within your body and on your skin, helping maintain healthy, youthful skin. These antioxidant properties are also helpful when you’re exposed to cigarette smoke or ultraviolet rays from sunlight, protecting against skin cancer.
Taking vitamin E with vitamin C fights skin inflammation after exposure to UV radiation and can also be useful in decreasing signs of acne and eczema. Vitamin E also helps the healing process in the skin. It’s absorbed by the epidermis layer of the skin and can be used to treat sunburn, which is one of the leading causes of skin cancer, among other factors. Because it speeds up cell regeneration, it can be used to treat scars, acne and wrinkles; this makes your skin look healthier and younger.
4. Thickens Hair
Because vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant, it helps decrease environmental damage to your hair. It can also promote circulation to the scalp. Vitamin E oil can retain the natural moisture in your skin, which helps your scalp from becoming dry and flakey. This oil also makes your hair look healthier and fresher. You can apply a few drops of vitamin E oil on your hair, especially if it looks dry and dull.
5. Balances Hormones
Vitamin E can play a crucial role in balancing your endocrine and nervous systems, naturally working to balance hormones naturally. Symptoms of a hormonal imbalance may include PMS, weight gain, allergies, urinary tract infections, changes in the skin, anxiety and fatigue. By keeping your hormones in balance, you will find it easier to maintain a healthy weight, keep a regular menstrual cycle and find yourself feeling more energetic.
6. Helps PMS Symptoms
Taking a vitamin E supplement two to three days before and two to three days after a menstrual period can reduce the cramping, anxiety and cravings and other PMS symptoms. Vitamin E can decrease pain severity and duration, and it can reduce menstrual blood loss. It does this by balancing your hormones naturally, and it helps keep your menstrual cycle regulated.
7. Improves Vision
Vitamin E may help decrease the risk of age-related macular degeneration, which is a common cause of blindness. Keep in mind, in order for vitamin E to be effective for vision, it must also be consumed with adequate intakes of vitamin C, beta-carotene and zinc. It’s also been found that taking high doses of vitamin E and vitamin A daily seems to improve healing and vision in people undergoing laser eye surgery.
8. Helps People with Alzheimer’s Disease
Research shows that the anti-inflammatory activity of tocotrienols contribute to their protection against Alzheimer’s disease. Vitamin E may slow down the worsening of memory loss and functional decline in people with moderately severe Alzheimer’s disease or other neurodegenerative disorders. It may also delay the loss of independence and the need for a caregiver or assistance. Vitamin E, taken with vitamin C, can also decrease the risk of developing several forms of dementia.
9. May Lower Cancer Risk and Improve Effects of Medical Treatments
Vitamin E is sometimes used to lessen the harmful effects of medical treatments, such as radiation and dialysis for treating cancer. This is because it’s a powerful antioxidant that fights off free radicals in the body. It’s also used to reduce unwanted side effects of drugs that may cause hair loss or lung damage.
Certain isomers of vitamin E have also been tied to cancer protection. Several animal studies have found evidence of suppression of tumor growth using oral doses of tocotrienols. While there’s more to learn about how exactly this works, several mechanisms of action are thought to be by tocotrienols, inducing cancer cell death, turning off genes tied to cancer and inhibiting angiogenesis, or the abnormal growth of blood vessels inside a tumor. In animal studies, cancer-protective abilities have been demonstrated in cases of breast, prostate, hepatic and skin cancers.
10. Improves Physical Endurance and Muscle Strength
Vitamin E can be used to improve your physical endurance. It can increase your energy and reduce the level of oxidative stress on your muscles after you exercise. Vitamin E can also improve your muscle strength. It eliminates fatigue by promoting blood circulation and can also strengthen your capillary walls and nourish your cells.
11. Important During Pregnancy for Growth and Development
Vitamin E is critical during pregnancy and for proper development in infants and children because it protects critical fatty acids and helps control inflammation. Some experts believe that the biggest need for vitamin E is during the 1,000-day window that begins at conception, since vitamin E impacts early stages of neurologic and brain development that can only happen during this one specific period. Because of this, it’s recommended that pregnant women, nursing mothers and children up until the age of 2 take a natural, food-based supplement to make sure they’re getting enough to prevent abnormalities.
Risks of Vitamin E
Some people may be sensitive to vitamin E supplements, according to the Mayo Clinic. Consuming vitamin E in a supplement can cause diarrhea, nausea, stomach cramps, weakness, tiredness, headaches, rashes and other problems.
As a fat-soluble vitamin, vitamin E is stored in the body, and excess is not washed out through the urinary tract, as does happen with water-soluble vitamins, according to Georgia Highlands College. This trait means that vitamin E can accumulate to toxic levels over time, so it’s possible to overdose on this vitamin.
Too much supplemental vitamin E can cause excessive bleeding and many other symptoms, including fatigue, nausea, blurred vision and gonadal dysfunction, according to the Mayo Clinic. The vitamin is also a mild blood thinner, so high doses are discouraged prior to surgery, advised Somer.
Furthermore, a 2005 study by a team of researchers at The Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions attempted to demonstrate that vitamin E supplements could help treat cardiovascular disease and cancer. Instead, the team found that taking high doses of vitamin E increased the mortality rate during the study period for cardiovascular disease and cancer patients. The researchers concluded that large doses of vitamin E should be avoided. They published their results in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine.
Similarly, a study by researchers found that people who took antioxidant supplements, including vitamin E, had a slightly increased risk of mortality during the study period. The results from that study were published in 2007 in the Journal of the American Medical Association and were focused on 68 randomized controlled trials that followed 232,606 participants for an average of 3.3 years.