Vitamin E, an antioxidant, is a fat-soluble nutrient and can only be obtained through food or through supplementation. It is well known for its benefits for the skin, however it also beneficially for the heart and the brain. A deficiency of Vitamin E is usually caused by a genetic abnormality or a fat malabsorption disorder.
Health Benefits for the Skin:
People have long recognized that Vitamin E is good for their skin. Vitamin E in addition to Vitamin C has been proven to provide anti-aging benefits by preventing oxidative damage caused by sunlight. These two antioxidants are also able to protect the skin against UV irradiation as well as eliminate free radicals, known to break down the polyunsaturated fatty acid membranes that provide cellular protection for every cell. These two antioxidants used in combination have been shown in studies to provide a synergistic benefit not seen by either antioxidant when taken by them self. Additionally studies have shown people with vitiligo, a condition where the skin loses its pigmentation, who have taken Vitamin E supplements have improved re-pigmentation of the skin as well as a reduction in the worsening of the condition. Reductions in inflammation and lesion growth have also been seen with Vitamin E supplementation.
Health Benefits for the Heart:
Vitamin E aids in protecting cells from oxidative stress in addition to preventing LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol from oxidation. A severe deficiency of Vitamin E can cause cardiomyopathy, a disease of the heart muscle. Animal studies have shown beneficial effects of Vitamin E for atherosclerosis. In a large study with almost 40,000 women participants over 45 years of age, cardiovascular death rates were reduced by 24% in participants supplementing with Vitamin E. Women older than 65, experienced a 49% reduction in cardiovascular death rates and a 26% reduction in nonfatal heart attacks.
Health Benefits for Other Things:
New interest in Vitamin E and its ability to support brain health has prompted research. Some studies have shown Vitamin E could provide protective effects against injuries occurring in brain cells caused by strokes, reducing the risk for neurodegenerative diseases. It is believed that Vitamin E influences the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and mild cognitive impairment as well.
Vitamin E also has been linked with benefits for individuals with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFL). Studies have found supplementation with Vitamin E improved biochemistry features and microscopic tissue structures of patients with NAFL.
Increased Vitamin E supplementation during pregnancy may be needed to meet the increased needs of the body and to prevent gestational complications including several brain conditions.
In a study of over 29,000 male smokers who supplemented with Vitamin E for 5 – 8 years, a 32% reduction in prostate cancer incidence was seen when compared to the placebo group.
Over 90% of adults in the United States do not meet the average daily requirement of Vitamin E (around 15 mg) according to the Linus Pauling Institute. Older individuals needing to improve their immunity should take higher dosages.