Vitamin E is one of nature’s most powerful antioxidants, helping in reversing the effects of ageing by stopping free radicals from damaging our cells.
This vitamin can help towards preventing cardiovascular disease, improve skin health and appearance, and keep our organs strong and healthy.
It also reduces the risk of high blood pressure, hardened arteries, heart attacks, some cancers, liver disease, and kidney failure.
Throughout our whole lives, free radicals are continually attacking the cells in our bodies. This damage builds up over the years, and gets progressively worse.
By consuming enough vitamin E, we can slow, halt, or even reverse some of this damage, reversing the effects of ageing and increasing our longevity.
It has also been found to slow the development of Alzheimer’s.
Along with all that, vitamin E is particularly important in keeping cell membranes in a healthy state.
What Amount Should We be Taking?
Adults need around 12 milligrams of vitamin E per day, although as it is fat soluble it is perfectly possible to eat a bit more of it and go a short while with a reduced intake.
How Do I Know if I’m Getting Enough?
Until recently it was assumed that as most diets are rich in vitamin E and as vitamin E requirements are so low, deficiencies must be rare, and caused largely by illness, not by diet.
However, it has come to light that people absorb it at different rates, and that many diets truly are deficient in vitamin E of all kinds.
The deficiency of this vitamin is made worse by poor fat absorption. It is a fat soluble vitamin, so if we do not eat enough fat, or do not absorb fat well, we can become deficient.
So, if you have trouble with your pancreas, gallbladder, or have had gastric bypass surgery, it is a possibility that you could become deficient.
Symptoms of vitamin E deficiency include loss of muscle coordination, eyesight troubles, and trouble speaking. I cover more of these below.
Should I Consider Taking Supplements?
Synthetic edible vitamin E has been found to not provide the same benefits as natural vitamin E, so it is not advisable to take supplements.
Instead, focus on eating a rich and varied diet high in both raw and cooked plants, seeds and oils. (More listed below).
However, if you cannot absorb enough fat to keep your vitamin E levels up, it is worth considering supplements that are applied to the skin, as it is possible to absorb vitamin E through our skin in large enough amounts to avoid deficiency.
There’s More Than One Vitamin E
There are actually eight different types of vitamin E, all of which come from different food sources and provide their own unique benefits.
They can be divided into two groups, tocotrienols and tocopherols.
It has been found that too much tocopherol vitamin E can stop you absorbing tocotrienols as well, which can lead to deficiency symptoms even in people who are consuming enough.
For this reason, eat a wide variety of fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds. Rice oil, rice bran oil, and palm oils which are particularly high in tocotrienol
Chemical Name: d(l) alpha tocopherol. Tocopheryl acetate. Tocopheryl succinate.
Beneficial for: Helps the body to use oxygen. Helps to prevent blood clots, thrombosis and atherosclerosis. Balances cholesterol. Repairs damages skin. Thickens hair. It’s an antioxidant that protects cells from damage. Improves wound healing. Improves fertility. Improves vision. Balances hormones and helps with PMS symptoms.
Signs of Being Deficient: Becoming exhausted after light exercise. Bruise easily. Wounds heal more slowly. Develop varicose veins. Loss of muscle tone. Infertility and lack of sex drive.
Required Amounts: RDA 12mg.
Good Food Sources: Sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, peanuts, beans,peas,wheatgerm. Soya, corn and olive oil. Tuna, sardines, salmon. Sweet potatoes, broccoli, spinach, raw tomatoes, kiwi.
Absorption Assisters: Works well with vitamin C and Selenium.
Absorption Inhibitors: Too much intake of refined or processed oils and fats. Cooking at high temperatures especially frying. Birth control pill. Air pollution.
NB: Absorption assisters and inhibitors are factors that will either help or hinder the absorption of the specific nutrient into the body, for the best effect.
To make the most of the positive effects of the nutrient, you should either minimise or eliminate the inhibitor when consuming it.