Even though its name makes it sound like a single substance, Vitamin E refers to a group of fat soluble antioxidants, which act in the body to protect against cell damage. It exists in 8 different forms. Alpha-tocopherol is the most active form of Vitamin E in our body. It is a powerful biological antioxidant and therefore it has become synonymous with vitamin E.
Vitamin E Nutritional Values
- Some types of cell damage are thought to be caused by “oxidant” action of free radicals. Although humans must breathe oxygen to stay alive, oxygen can be a risky substance inside our body because it can make molecules overly reactive. When oxygen-containing molecules become too reactive, they can start damaging the cell structures around them. In chemistry, this imbalanced situation involving oxygen is called oxidative stress. Some studies believe that vitamin E can be a good antioxidant which helps to prevent free radical reactions and therefore protect against heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s diseases and Parkinson’s disease. However, the effect has yet to be demonstrated with conclusive answer.
- Vitamin E is beneficial for healthy skin and nails. That is why some manufacturers have claimed their body lotion, shampoo or conditioners have vitamin E
- When vitamin E was first discovered many years ago, it is its role in fertility and reproduction that caught the doctors’ attention. Deficiency in rats has shown that it leads to absorption in the female and loss of fertility on the male. This potent antioxidant plays important roles in male sperm production. It is known that a lack of vitamin E inhibits the formation of sperm. Low vitamin E levels can cause a decline in the formation of key sex hormones and enzymes responsible for sperm production.
- Vitamin E helps lower blood pressure and blood sugar is important for diabetics and those people suffering from high blood pressure.
The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for adult, including pregnant women, is 15 mg/d of alpha-tocopherol which is equivalent to 22 International Units (IU) of natural sources of vitamin E per day or 33 IU from synthetic sources.
Ingesting large dose of vitamin E does not give additional health benefits. Our body will only excrete any excess amounts anyway. However, if you take more than 1,000 mg (1,500 IU)/day, you may have the risk of bleeding problems because vitamin E can act as an anti-coagulant. If you are taking anti-clotting medication, consult with your doctor before taking Vitamin E.s If you take high doses of 3,000 IU a day, you may have intestinal cramps and diarrhea.
How To Get More Natural Vitamin From Your Diet
Our bodies do not manufacture vitamin E. So, we have to get it from food or from supplements.
- Because vitamin E is fat-soluble, it is generally found in fat-rich foods. So, eat more healthy fats. Unsaturated fat sources are sunflower oil, safflower oil, canola oil, olive oil, palm oil and corn oil.
- Do not forget about seeds and nuts such as sunflower seeds, almonds, walnuts, peanuts and avocado.
- Eat green leafy vegetables (spinach and broccoli), but its amount is very small.
- Fruits like papaya, kiwifruit and blueberries have vitamin E too.
- Store your foods properly because vitamin E is very sensitive to oxygen. Store vitamin E rich foods in sealed and capped containers. If you take vitamin supplements, store tham at room temperature in a dry place.
- Eat unprocessed foods because processed foods have 50 to 90 percent less vitamin E than unprocessed ones.
- Get enough vitamin C and zinc because they help to boost your body’s ability to absorb and use vitamin E.
As long as you eat a well balanced diet with fruits, vegetables, whole grains and moderate amounts of healthy unsaturated fats (like those in fish, olive oil, canola oil, nuts and flax seed), you should have enough vitamin E. In fact, vitamin E deficiency is very uncommon. Unless you are so thin that you have problem absorbing fat or you have extremely low fat diet, deficiency is rare. I prefer natural sources as supposed to single substance supplements as they are nutritionally balanced and complete foods.
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