Vitamin E is a fat-soluble antioxidant which helps protect our cells from damage by free radicals. The term Vitamin E is a collective term for a group of eight related compounds that include four tocopherols and four tocotrienols. Alpha-tocopherol is the most common one in humans. Vitamin E benefits us in many ways and it is needed for many biochemical functions in the body like cell signaling, gene expression, and enzyme reactions.
Vitamin E helps prevent poor eyesight, gout, and arthritis. Let us learn more about vitamin E benefits and its vital role in our body.
Vitamin E benefits
Vitamin E has antioxidant properties which are helpful in preventing and treating many diseases. Let us learn more about some science-based vitamin E benefits.
1. Regulates cholesterol
Oxidative changes in LDL cholesterol can lead to blockages in arteries, which can cause heart attacks. Individual isomers of vitamin E help to fight cholesterol oxidation, which is beneficial for heart health (2)
Tocotrienol isomers of vitamin E help reduce the activity of HMG-CoA reductase, an enzyme that controls cholesterol synthesis. These isomers also prevent cell adhesion and slow down the progression of atherosclerosis.
Scientists have also found that vitamin E in natural form is more beneficial than that available as supplements. Too much of alpha-tocopherol can interfere with the cholesterol-lowering properties of delta and gamma-tocotrienols that are known for their cardioprotective activities.
2. Can reduce free-radical damage
Free radicals are the by-products of the body’s metabolic process. Free radicals break down the healthy cells in the body this can lead to cancer and heart disease. The antioxidant properties of vitamin E protect cells from the damaging effects of free radicals by limiting their production.
3. Helps prevent cancer
The antioxidant properties of vitamin E prevent damage to DNA, which further prevents mutations and tumor growth. Studies have shown the deficiency in vitamin E can increase your risk of developing prostate, colon, and lung cancer (5).
Isomers of vitamin E like tocotrienols can suppress tumor growth according to animal studies. Some other animals studies have also shown that vitamin E can be helpful in preventing breast, prostate, hepatic and skin cancer.
4. Prevents Alzheimer’s
You can delay age-related cognitive decline and memory loss by consuming a diet loaded with vitamin E. The anti-inflammatory properties of vitamin E are also helpful in preventing the onset of neural conditions like Alzheimer’s and dementia.
According to recent studies, vitamin E, when taken with vitamin C, can lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease (6).
5. Skin care
Vitamin E benefits our skin in many ways. It helps in maintaining healthy and youthful skin by strengthening the capillary walls and improving moisture and elasticity of the skin.
It is a naturally occurring lipid-soluble non-enzymatic antioxidant that protects the skin from the adverse effects of oxidative stress that include photoaging (7).
Vitamin E also protects your skin from the harmful effects of cigarette smoke, ultraviolet rays from the sun and skin cancer.
Vitamin is packed with antioxidants that contribute to collagen growth. Collagen is known to add elasticity to the skin and prevent wrinkles. It also is helpful in treating scars, burns, and bruises.
6. Reduces PMS symptoms
According to recent research, supplements containing vitamin E can help reduce the symptoms of PMS. Prostaglandins can cause pain and inflammation, and more of them are produced during the menstrual cycle.
Supplements with vitamin E and essential fatty acids curb the making of prostaglandins and thus control many symptoms of PMS.
7. Encourages healthy hair growth
Vitamin E has antioxidant properties which are helpful in repairing damage caused to the hair. When we use vitamin E in the hair, it encourages healthy hair growth.
It promotes the circulation to the scalp and helps retain natural moisture, which prevents the scalp from becoming dry and flakey. Many oils, gels and hair serums also have vitamin E in them because of its antioxidant properties.
According to a 2010 study, scientists found that vitamin E supplements can also improve hair growth in people suffering from hair loss (8).
Vitamin E is also known to prevent early greying of hair and ensures the growth of healthy and dark hair.
8. Balances hormones
A stressful lifestyle and unhealthy eating habits can wreak havoc on your hormonal balance. Vitamin E helps balance your endocrine and nervous system, which aid in balancing hormones naturally (9).
Osteoporosis, PMS, weight gain, allergies, anxiety, and fatigue are some of the typical signs of hormonal imbalance. When your hormones are balanced women, feel more energetic and have regular menstrual cycles.
9. Prevents macular degeneration
According to various studies, vitamin E reduces the progression of age-related macular degeneration and cataract formation. A recent age-related eye disease study by the National Eye Institute established that age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is caused by nutritional deficiencies (10).
The study showed that 400IU/day of vitamin E, along with other nutrients like beta-carotene, vitamin C, and zinc, help slow AMD by 25 percent.
Vitamin E, along with vitamin A also improves healing and vision in people undergoing laser eye surgery. Vitamin E also helps in reducing and delaying the growth of cataracts thanks to its antioxidant properties.
10. Prevents blood clots
Vitamin E acts as a blood thinner and prevents clots. Clots that form in arteries can lead to strokes and heart attacks. Deep vein clots are equally dangerous as they can break off and travel to the lungs and cause pulmonary embolisms.
According to a Harvard University study in Cambridge, Massachusetts, women who took 600 IU of vitamin E every other day for ten years were 21 percent less likely to develop blood clots. Women who had a history of venous thromboembolism were 44 percent less likely to form clots.
11. Improves physical endurance
Vitamin E benefits are also seen in muscle growth and endurance training. It plays a vital role in promoting physical endurance and muscle growth in the body (11). It helps improve your energy levels and reduces the effect of oxidative stress in the body after exercise.
Vitamin E also helps to improve muscle growth in the body. It strengthens capillary walls and nourishes the cell.
12. Helps in growth and development during pregnancy
Vitamin E is vital during pregnancy as it helps in the proper development of the infants. Vitamin E has potent antioxidant properties which prevent any oxidative damage of DHA. When DHA is protected from damage, it helps keep the cognitive or brain development of the baby intact.
Since 90 percent of the brain development takes place by two years of age, experts recommend that pregnant women, nursing mothers, and children up to the age of two should take natural food-based supplements of vitamin E.
Foods rich in vitamin E
The best way to get vitamin E benefits is by consuming vitamin E rich food items. Also, it is always wiser to get your vitamins from the food that you eat instead of a supplement since a natural food source is always better.
Here’s a list of foods that are rich sources of vitamin E (1).
- Wheat germ oil (1 tablespoon) – 20 mg (100% of recommended daily value (DV) per serving)
- Sunflower seeds (1 ounce) – 7.4 mg (37% of DV)
- Almonds (1 ounce) – 6.8 mg (34% of DV)
- Sunflower oil (1 tablespoon) – 5.6 mg (28% of DV)
- Safflower oil (1 tablespoon) – 4.6 mg (25% of DV)
- Hazelnuts, dry roasted (1 ounce) – 4.3 mg (22% of DV)
- Peanuts, dry roasted (1 ounce) – 2.2 mg (11% of DV)
- Spinach, boiled (1/2 cup) – 1.9 mg (10% of DV)
- Broccoli, chopped & cooked (1/2 cup) – 1.2 mg (6% of DV)
- Kiwifruit (1 medium) – 1.1 mg (6% of DV)
Recommended Daily intake of vitamin E (1)
The recommended daily intake of vitamin E varies according to different age groups. This recommended intake refers to the amount you get from food sources and supplements.
- to 6 months: 4 mg/day
- 7 to 12 months: 5 mg/day
- 1 to 3 years: 6 mg/day
- 4 to 8 years: 7 mg/day
- 9 to 13 years: 11 mg/day
- 14 years and above: 15 mg/day
- Pregnant: 5 mg /day
- Lactation: 19 mg/day
- 14 years and above: 15 mg/day
Side effects of vitamin E
Till now, we saw how vitamin E benefits us in several ways. Also, vitamin E is considered safe for most people if you take it in the recommended amount which is 15 mg per day. But it is considered unsafe if it is taken in very high amounts.
People, who suffer from heart disease or diabetes, should not take more than 400 UI per day. Taking vitamin E in the range of 300 to 800 UI per day can increase the risk of hemorrhagic stroke by 22 percent. In people with diabetes, it can increase the risk of heart failure.
High doses can also lead to nausea, cramps, diarrhea, fatigue, weakness, headaches and blurred vision. You should also avoid taking vitamin E supplements immediately before or after angioplasty as it can interfere with the healing process.
If you have bleeding disorders, vitamin E can make your condition worse. Vitamin E can also increase the risk of bleeding after surgery. So, avoid taking vitamin E supplements at least two weeks before surgery.
Final words on vitamin E benefits
Vitamin E is an antioxidant which provides numerous health benefits. Vitamin E benefits include helps to regulate cholesterol, prevents Alzheimer’s, prevents cancer and balances hormones.
Unfortunately, this beneficial vitamin is unsafe if taken in very high amount. So, stick to the recommended dose of 15 mg per day to get all possible vitamin e benefits.
Include some vitamin E rich foods, like wheat germ oil, sunflower seeds, hazelnuts, spinach, and kiwi, in your daily diet plan.