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Home :: Vitamin E

Vitamin E - Benefits, Deficiency Symptoms And Food Sources

Alternative name :: Anti-aging vitamin and Anti-oxidant vitamin

What is Vitamin E ?

Vitamin E is one of the most talked-about vitamins in America. And with good reason. It is a powerful antioxidant, responsible for protecting the body from pollutants, chemicals, and rancid fats that create the free radicals which in turn contribute to cancer and break down other nutrients in the body.

Vitamin E is a recent discovery. It was first identified in 1922 when researchers found that rats fed a limited diet became infertile. However, after receiving wheat germ oil-which happens to be high in vitamin E-the rats became fertile again. When the responsible nutrient was isolated, scientists named it tocopherol, after the Greek words tokos and phero, which mean" offspring" and" to bear."

Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin that is actually comprised of two families of compounds: the tocopherols (alpha, beta, gamma, delta, epsilon, and zeta) and the tocotrienols (alpha, beta, gamma, and delta). Of all its constituents, alpha-tocopherol, delta-tocopherol, and gamma-tocopherol are the most studied­ although all vitamin E constituents are beneficial. Unlike the other fat-soluble vitamins-A, D, and K-vitamin E is not effectively stored in the body. After ingestion, it finds its way to the intestines, where it is absorbed along with fat and bile salts-first into the lymphatic system and then into the blood, which carries it to the liver to be used or stored.

Benefits of Vitamin E

Vitamin E is an antioxidant that is important in the prevention of cancer and cardiovascular disease. It improves circulation, is necessary for tissue repair, and is useful in treating premenstrual syndrome and fibrocystic disease of the breast. It promotes normal blood clotting and healing, reduces scarring from some wounds, reduces blood pressure, aids in preventing cataracts, improves athletic performance, and relaxes leg cramps. Vitamin E can enhance sperm production in some men. It also maintains healthy nerves and muscles while strengthening capillary walls. In addition, it promotes healthy skin and hair, and helps to prevent anemia and retrolental fibroplasia, an eye disorder that can affect premature infants. A 1998 study by the National Cancer Institute found that long-term use of vitamin E substantially reduced prostate cancer risk in smokers. Other studies suggest that this vitamin may slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease. Thus far, vitamin E has been shown to protect against approximately eighty diseases.

As an antioxidant, vitamin E prevents cell damage by inhibiting the oxidation of lipids (fats) and the formation of free radicals. It protects other fat-soluble vitamins from destruction by oxygen and aids in the utilization of vitamin A. It retards aging and may prevent age spots as well. Some studies have shown daily use of vitamin E to be more protective than aspirin for prevention of heart attacks, with no harmful side effects. The misuse of aspirin, in contrast, causes or contributes to an estimated 3,000 deaths in the United States each year.

Recommended Dosage of Vitamin E

The minimum Recommended Dosage Allowance of Vitamin E are :-

  • Adults - 200 IU (5 mcg ).
  • Pregnant women - 400 IU (10 mcg ).

Special Intake of Vitamin E

While a daily dose of 5 to 10 mcg of vitamin D is recommended, the following individuals have increased needs for vitamin E :-

  • Smokers. Cigarette, cigar, and pipe smoking deplete the body of vitamin E.
  • Alcoholics. Alcohol reduces levels of vitamin E in the body.
  • Individuals who eat only cooked fruits or processed fruits and vegetables. Canning, cooking, and freezing break down the vitamin E in foods.
  • Individuals who live in polluted environments or who are exposed to secondhand smoke. Pollution and secondhand smoke stress the immune system, thus depleting vitamin E levels in the body.
  • The elderly. With age comes a reduced ability to absorb vitamin.
  • Individuals who are ill or who are scheduled for or have recently had surgery. The body uses increased levels of vitamin E to recover from illness and surgery.
  • Individuals who eat fried and deep-fried foods daily. When oil is heated to a certain temperature, free radicals are created. When consumed, these free radicals are believed to contribute to cancer. Vitamin E's antioxidant actions help neutralize these free radicals.
  • Individuals on birth control pills or other types of hormone therapy. Estrogen depletes vitamin E stores in the body.

Deficiency Symptoms of Vitamin E

Symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency includes :-

  • Anemia
  • Dementia.
  • Fatigue.
  • Infertility.
  • Insomnia.
  • Joint pain.
  • Muscle pain.
  • Menstrual problems.
  • Neuromuscular impairment.

Rich Food Sources of Vitamin E

Vitamin E is found in the following food sources: cold­pressed vegetable oils, dark green leafy vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. Significant quantities of this vitamin are also found in brown rice, cornmeal, dulse, eggs, kelp, desiccated liver, milk, oatmeal, organ meats, soybeans, sweet potatoes, watercress, wheat, and wheat germ. Herbs that contain vitamin E include alfalfa, bladderwrack, dandelion, dong quai, flaxseed, nettle, oat straw, raspberry leaf, and rose hips

Some more information on Vitamin E

The body needs zinc in order to maintain the proper level of vitamin E in the blood. Vitamin E that has oxidized a free radical can be revitalized by vitamin C and enabled to battle additional free radicals, according to Lester Packer, Ph.D., noted researcher and professor of molecular and cell biology at the University of California-Berkeley. Adding vitamin E to fats and oils prevents them from becoming rancid. The oxidation of fats is a key factor in the formation of plaque adhering to blood vessel walls.

If you take both vitamin E and iron supplements, take them at different times of the day. Inorganic forms of iron (such as ferrous sulfate) destroy vitamin E. Organic iron (ferrous gluconate or ferrous fumarate) leaves vitamin E intact

Cautions

If you are taking an anticoagulant medication (blood thinner), do not take more than 1,200 international units of vitamin E daily. If you suffer from diabetes, rheumatic heart disease, or an overactive thyroid, do not take more than the recommended dose. If you have high blood pressure, start with a small amount, such as 200 international units daily, and increase slowly to the desired amount.



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