What is vitamin E?
Vitamin E can be described as a group of eight fat-soluble nutrients. They are essential antioxidants which help to protect cells from free radical damage and key for strong immunity, in addition, the cells use them to interact with other nutrients and carry out many important health benefits.
There are eight different forms of vitamin E: four tocopherol isoforms (α-, β-, γ-, and δ-tocopherol) and four tocotrienol isoforms (α-, β-, γ-, and δ-tocotrienol). Most common types in our food sources are α- tocopherol and γ- tocopherol. It is the best to obtain a variety of vitamin E from diet, because different types have different benefits.
Vitamin E deficiency
A deficiency in vitamin E is rare. Only related to individuals who has genetic defects of α- tocopherol transporting, and people who has difficulty to absorb fat since vitamin E is fat-soluble. Severe vitamin E deficiency could lead to vision damage, muscle weakness, weaken in sensory nerves, and deterioration of immunity.
Vitamin E health benefits:
1. Vitamin E as an antioxidant
The main function of vitamin E in our body is its antioxidant ability. As a fat-soluble antioxidant, it protects cell membranes from free radical attack, including tissues of skin, eyes, liver and lungs. Oxidative stress has long term effect of developing chronic diseases such as heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease and cancer.
In addition, vitamin E protects low-density lipoproteins (LDLs) from oxidation. LDLs specialize in transportation of cholesterols to the tissues of body. Sufficient amount of vitamin E could prevent the development of cardiovascular disease.
2. Improves immune system
A poor immunity can lead to slow response to immunization, weaker defense to infections, and higher risks of developing inflammation and chronic diseases. Vitamin E could improve the response and production of immune cells, especially important to elder people who have poor immune function.
3. Disease prevention
Vitamin E is fat-soluble and is therefore the best antioxidant to stabilize cell membranes and protect tissues. For example, it can strengthen the skin; prevent ultraviolet ray damage from sunlight and reduce the risk of skin cancer. Vitamin E can also protect the lungs from cigarette smoke exposure which prevent respiratory disorders.
4. Skincare ability
Many skincare products are associated with vitamin E oil, because it can help heal or diminish scars, moisturize skin, prevent wrinkles, reduce the damage from sunburn, and promote wound healing. It is important for anti-aging and makes your skin look younger and healthier inside out.
As one of the most essential antioxidant, the recommended intake amount for optimum health is 200mg daily, which is 10 times the RDA. It is difficult to meet the requirement from food sources alone, so high quality of supplementation is recommended. Keep in mind that because vitamin E is fat-soluble, supplements work best when absorbing with fats.
Food sources high in vitamin E: sunflower oil, safflower oil, olive oil, peanuts, almonds, hazelnuts, avocado, spinach, sweet potato, asparagus, broccoli