Vitamin E (Tocopherol ) is a fat-soluble or water-soluble antioxidant. In its natural form, Vitamin E exists in eight chemical forms. It helps the body use Vitamin K and generate red blood cells. Long time deficiency can lead to kidney and liver problems.
As an antioxidant, Vitamin E plays a critical roll in protecting human body cells from the effects of free radicals. It is also essential for metabolic processes and the immune system. Several studies have linked the health benefits of vitamin E for several neurodegenerative diseases.
Health Benefits of Vitamin E
Some of the key health benefits of Vitamin E are discussed below:
Alzheimer’s disease : A study with positive results studied a group of people who had already contracted Alzheimer’s
disease and took a placebo, selegiline or 2,000 IU of Vitamin E. The disease progressed slower [200 days longer] in group that took Vitamin E than the placebo. Other studies have provided mixed evidence about the effect of Vitamin E on this disease, although it was found that those who took Vitamin E regularly were less likely to contract Alzheimer’s. The risk of dementia linked to Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia risk can be lowered with vitamin E and C supplements. These supplements are supposed to improve cognitive functions and lower the risk of various forms of dementia.
Good for Eye Health : A combination of 400IU of vitamin E, zinc, vitamin C and beta-carotene – all antioxidants are said to help in maintaining eye health especially in senior citizens. AMD or age-related macular degeneration causes cataracts and loss of central vision in people over 55. In the early stages, the health benefits of vitamin E supplements are significant in slowing vision loss.
A combination of vitamins E and C can treat uveitis a disease that causes inflammation of the uvea, which is the white outer coating on the eye. People who took these vitamin supplements had a clearer vision.
Parkinson’s disease : Those who took greater quantities of Vitamin E in their diet were said to have a lower risk of contracting Parkinson’s. However, high doses of vitamin E supplements did not slow the progress of this disease after its onset. The reason why foods rich in vitamin E have a better effect than supplements could be because they contain other nutrients that provide better protection against Parkinson’s disease.
Recommended Dosage of Vitamin E
Benefits to Heart : Many studies have shown that those with higher Vitamin E levels in the body have a reduced risk of contracting heart diseases. However, a the HOPE trial study revealed that consumption of 400 I.U of Vitamin E a day did not reduce the risk of heart disease in the high risk category. A large clinical study has suggested that foods rich in Vitamin E can help reduce risk of stroke deaths in post menopausal women.
Another significant study has found that the antioxidation properties of Vitamin E can provide protection against heart disease. Vitamin E combined with betacarotene can prevent heart disease but this depends a great deal on the timing and quantity of the dosage.
Cancer Benefits :
Large studies have indicated that antioxidants such as Vitamin E could prevent cancer. It was found that those who had cancer also had lower Vitamin E levels. However, extensive studies have found that women who took Vitamin E supplements did not have a lesser risk of developing breast cancer. People who took Vitamin E also did not get protection from cancers such as colorectal cancer, pancreatic and lung cancer. Researchers suggest that taking Vitamin E rich foods provide a better protection against cancers than Vitamin E supplements.
Relief in Menstrual Pain : 500 IU of vitamin E taken 2 days prior to and 3 after a period can lessen menstrual pain symptoms called dysmenorrhea. Other PMS symptoms such as depression, cravings and anxiety can also be alleviated with the right dosage of vitamin E supplements.
Benefit in Diabetes : Those with diabetes tend to suffer from low antioxidant levels. This has led researchers to theorize there are health benefits of vitamin E for those with diabetes especially by reducing the risk of heart disease. It can also lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels in those with type 2 diabetes and reduce the risk of contracting retinopathy and nephropathy. One study illustrated the fact that those suffered from type 2 diabetes and who took 400IU of Vitamin E a day could be protected from dying of heart disease.
Pre-eclampsia : Pregnant women with pre-eclampsia suffer from high levels of protein in the urine and high blood pressure. Both these result in premature births and it has been suggested that vitamin E and C supplements can prevent pre-eclampsia.
Benefits in Tardive dyskinesia : Tardive dyskinesia is a condition caused by taking certain medications over long periods of time. This can result in involuntary, repetitive movements. Small studies have suggested the benefits of vitamin E for this condition although larger studies have found no effect.
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) :
Those who took vitamin E supplements for 16 years at least were found to have a lesser risk of dying from ALS. Those who already have ALS do not gain any benefits. IT has been suggested that vitamin E is beneficial more for prevention than treatment.
Benefits in Photodermatitis : This is an allergic reaction to the UV rays of the sun. A clinical study has found that a combination of Vitamin E and C can provide protection and those who suffer from this reaction become less sensitive to UV rays.
Rheumatoid arthritis pain – not inflammation – can be reduced with vitamin E
Foods rich in Vitamin E
To gain the maximum health benefits of vitamin E, it has been suggested that people eat foods rich in this vitamin rather than just consume supplements. Wheat germ has the highest concentration of vitamin E. Other foods include liver, eggs, various nuts, spinach, kale, avocado, asparagus, yams, vegetable oils – olive, safflower, corn, canola, etc.
Precautions when taking Vitamin E
Take vitamin E supplements only after consulting a doctor. It can result in excessive bleeding for those on blood thinners. Those who take antidepressant and antipsychotic medications, AZT and aspirin must also take vitamin E supplements under medical supervision.
Oral Vitamin E doses range from 50-1,000 I.U, with experts recommending people get this from foods rather than supplements. For adults, the recommended dosage for prevention and treatment of diseases is 400-800 IU.
Health benefits Vitamin E are numerous, and plays an important part in body functioning. It is important to maintain correct dosage of Vitamin E ideally consuming foods rich in Vitamin E or taking it as supplements when required.