A key antioxidant, vitamin E is important for a healthy heart amongst its many other health benefits; it is very important for keeping the skin and eyes healthy and help the blood supply to the heart and other bodily organs. Although it is fat-soluble, this vitamin is only stored in your body for a period of time.
Vitamin E Functions
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble powerful antioxidant that helps to protect your body from the effects of free radicals, which damage cells and speed up the ageing process, especially of the skin. As a fat-soluble antioxidant, vitamin E
- Protects lipids and other vulnerable components of cells from destruction
- Protects poly-unsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) from oxidation
- Protects Vit. A from oxidation.
One of vitamin E key functions is as an anticoagulant; it reduces abnormal blood clotting and helps keep blood vessels free from blockages. It is therefore considered crucial in protecting against heart and blood vessel disease.
Vitamin E is important for the production of energy from food and the maintenance of health at every level; it protects the metabolic equipment in mitochondria involved in transforming energy fuels into ATP.
Vitamin E also helps to control body temperature and is used to treat hot flushes that can occur during menopause. Vitamin E also helps to improve the activity of vitamin A in the body.
Infections– Vitamin E is thought to boost the immune system and help the body fight infection.
Heart and circulation – studies have shown that vitamin E can help to keep your heart and blood vessels healthy. It is also used to alleviate varicose veins.
Healthy skin – Vitamin E speeds up wound healing and prevents thick scar formation. Its antioxidant effects help keep your skin looking young and in good condition.
Eye problems– supplements of vitamin E are thought to prevent cataract formation and eyesight loss with age.
Infertility– vitamin E, sometimes known as the “anti-sterility vitamin” is thought to be particularly helpful in cases of male infertility as it increases the amount of sperm production.
Vitamin E is found in a wide variety of foods and supplements so deficiency can be rare in humans but could mainly occur to people with digestive disorders or secondary to fat malabsorption syndromes (who do not absorb fat properly) such as pancreatitis and celiac disease.
Deficiency symptoms include neuromuscular impairments, hemolytic anemia, retinopathy, reduced immunity, and enhanced inflammation.
● Easy brusing
● Slow wound healing
● Lack of sex drive
● Exhaustion after exercise
● Varicose veins
The main dietary sources of vitamin E are vegetable oils, nuts and seeds, and green/leafy vegetables. The NHS recommend 4mg a day of vitamin E for men and 3mg for women. Vitamin E is present in many foods, and a handful of sunflower seeds should supply the RDA.
Heating destroys a third of a food’s vitamin E content and freezing destroys up to 80%. You should be able to get all the vitamin E you need from a varied and balanced diet.
● Wheatgerm oil
● Sunflower seeds and oil
● Rapeseed oil
● Pumpkin seeds
● Olive oil
● Pine nuts
● Peanut butter
● Sweet potato
● Red bell peppers
Vitamin E content in vegetable oils in mg of tocopherols per 100g
There is no evidence of toxic effects from vitamin E found naturally in foods. However if you are taking blood thinners such as Warfarin or have diabetes, consult your doctor before taking vitamin E supplements. High doses should only be taken under medical guidance.
Taking 540mg or less a day of vitamin E supplements is unlikely to cause any harm (NHS England).