Vitamin E: a quick overview of one of the most researched vitamins

Author -  Jamie Jones, Naturopath

Vitamin E – the free radical damage fighter

Vitamin E’s primary role in our bodies is as an antioxidant that helps to protect our cell membranes against free radical damage. Free radicals are highly reactive molecules that our bodies produce in the presence of cigarette smoke, alcohol, sunlight, or environmental toxins and pollutants. These molecules can damage our cells; and low Vitamin E levels can make us more vulnerable to this kind of damage.

How to tell if you’re low in Vitamin E

Symptoms of Vitamin E deficiency can include:

  • cholesterol imbalances
  • poor circulation
  • menopause / menstrual problems
  • fertility problems
  • vision problems
  • anaemia

Please note: some of these symptoms are potentially serious and may be due to other factors. If you are concerned about any health issues, please speak to your doctor.

What the research says: other Vitamin E roles

There is a wealth of scientific research about the benefits of Vitamin E. Studies show it can be helpful for:

  • Hormonal imbalances: tender, lumpy breast tissue1,2 and menopausal hot flushes both seem to respond well to Vitamin E. In fact, as far back as the 1940s, studies found that Vitamin E could help to relieve hot flushes and vaginal complaints3,4,5.
  • Blood sugar imbalances: people with non-insulin dependent diabetes showed improvements in the way their cells used glucose and insulin when they took Vitamin E6
  • Heart health: high levels of Vitamin E may help to preserve heart health. Several studies with large numbers of participants showed that people who consumed Vitamin E had better heart health7, 8,9
  • Artery health: fats and cholesterol molecules are easily damaged by free radicals. Vitamin E helps to protect them from being oxidised into a form that allows them to build up inside the arteries.

Notes:

  • If you’re taking heart disease medication, talk to your doctor before taking any kind of supplement. 
  • If you have existing heart and artery problems, do not take more than 200mg of Vitamin E per day unless your doctor supervises you. Excess Vitamin E may cause heart problems.
  • If you have high blood pressure (hypertension), you need to introduce Vitamin E gradually, as high doses can initially raise blood pressure.

REFERENCES

  1. London RS et al. Endocrine parameters and alpha-tocopheryl therapy of patients with mammary dysplasia. Cancer Res. 41, 3811-3813, 1981.
  2. London RS et al. The effect of alpha-tocopherol on premenstrual symptomatology: A double-blind study II. Endocrine correlates. J. Am. Col. Nutr. 3, 351-356, 1984.
  3. Christy CJ. Vitamin E in menopause. Am. J. Ob. Gyn. 50, 84-87, 1945.
  4. McLaren HC. Vitamin E in the menopause. Br. Med. J. ii, 1378-1381, 1949.
  5. Finkler RS. The effect of Vitamin E in the menopause. J. Clin. Endocrinol. Metab. 9, 89-94, 1949.
  6. Paolisso G et al. Pharmacologic doses of Vitamin E improve insulin action in healthy subjects and non-insulin dependent diabetic patients. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 57, 650-656, 1993.
  7. Losonczy K et al. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 1996; 64:190-96
  8. Stephens N et al. Lancet 1996; 347:781-86
  9. Gey KF et al. Inverse correlation between plasma Vitamin E and mortality from ischaemic heart disease in cross-cultural epidemiology. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 53, 3265-3345, 1991.
 
 
 
 
 
 

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