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What is Vitamin E?

Vitamin E is a term that is used to collectively refer to 8 different fat-soluble compounds. It primarily functions as an antioxidant which helps counteract the damage caused to the body internally. It came into the limelight when scientists discovered the radical damage being caused to cells and the crucial role of vitamin E in protecting them against it. 

While macronutrients such as carbohydrates, proteins and fats form a major portion of our nutrition needs, various micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals are equally essential for daily functioning. The only difference is that micronutrients are required by the body in trace amounts.

Vitamin E is one such micronutrient that serves as a crucial antioxidant for the human body alongside providing aid to the immune system and various other organs.

Functions of Vitamin E

As our body deals with toxins and stress, it starts to witness rapid ageing and extensive cell damage which could be fatal in the long run. Vitamin E is a micronutrient that counteracts this by effectively helping us deal with a product of natural bodily processes that causes the cell damage, called free radicals.

Free radicals are increase in the body due to factors like :-

  • Smoking

  • UV exposure

  • Pollutants

Hence, vitamin E acts as an inhibitor and helps your damaged cells regenerate and function better.

Health Benefits of Vitamin E

  • Vitamin E for a healthy immune system:

Since the concentration of vitamin E is higher in immune cells than any other part of the blood, it is widely believed the micronutrient plays an essential role in the functioning of the immune system.

  • Vitamin E for the heart:

Vitamin E has shown results in inhibiting blood clotting and enhancing the opening of blood vessels (vasodilation). In a study conducted by Cambridge called the Cambridge Heart Antioxidant Study (CHAOS), it was found that there was nearly a 50% reduction in heart attacks in those who took vitamin E. However, the researchers feel that the supplement would only be useful for those who have an existing heart problem and would not substantially affect the lifespan of fit people.

  • Vitamin E to treat neurodegenerative diseases :

Scientists yet have been unable to confirm the role of free radicals in causing problems such as dementia, parkinson’s disease and more. However, a few studies have shown that vitamin E might emerge as an effective treatment option since it carries the potential to boost cognitive functioning. One major motor-control disorder called Ataxia is treated by vitamin E supplementation since it causes a severe deficiency of the same.

  • Vitamin E for face and skin :

Topical application of creams and serums that contain vitamin E is commonly used as a remedy for hyperpigmentation, skin aging, treatment of acne and many more problems. In a study, it was found that vitamin E supplementation along with other antioxidants ingredients can be an effective option to delay wrinkles.

  • Vitamin E for lips:

Vitamin E is also used as a treatment for dry and chapped lips since it’s a fat-based vitamin and helps the skin regenerate faster.

Vitamin E deficiency

Vitamin E deficiencies are rare since the vitamin is available in abundance amongst natural food sources and little of it is required for healthy functioning. However, since the vitamin is fat-soluble, people who have digestive disorders or do not absorb fat properly might develop a vitamin E deficiency. While vitamin E deficiency does not manifest directly, the following are some problems that might indicate a vitamin E deficiency:

  • retinal damage in the eye or impair vision

  • damage to the nervous system

  • loss of control over one’s own body movements

  • Falling sick easily and often

In case you are diagnosed with a vitamin E deficiency, you would most likely have to rely on supplements.
At present, vitamin E supplements are present in the market in 2 forms:

  1. Natural form (D-alpha-tocopherol)

  2. Synthetic form (dl-alpha-tocopherol)

You should consult your doctor to choose the right supplement to treat your deficiency.

However, since vitamin E can be found easily in various food sources irrespective of your diet, it is recommended that you rely on food sources instead of relying on supplements.

Vitamin E Sources

As per the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA), 15 milligrams a day of Vitamin E to keep your body healthy. Vitamin E is found readily available in various plant-based oils, nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables. Some essential sources for vitamin E include:-

Food Item

Percentage of daily value

Quantity of vitamin E

Wheat germ oil and other plant based oils (1 tablespoon)

135%

20 mg

Sunflower seeds (1 oz.)

66%

10 mg

Almonds (1 oz.)

48%

7.3 mg

Peanuts (1 oz.)

16%

2.4 mg

Avocado (100 g)

14%

2.1 mg

Spinach (100 g)

 

14%

2.00 mg

Atlantic salmon (half a fillet)

14%

2.00 mg

Red bell pepper (1, medium sized )

13%

1.9 mg

 

While the nutrient is crucial for survival, one must make sure though that only the optimum amount of this nutrient is consumed. Since vitamin E is fat soluble, it tends to stay in the body for long. Excess of vitamin E has been linked to cause several health problems such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and makes you vulnerable to excessive bleeding.

Hence, a limit of 1000 mg has been set to ensure that vitamin E supplements do not harm you adversely

Conclusion

Vitamin E plays a crucial role in the functioning of our human body, primarily as an antioxidant. There have been various studies that have linked vitamin E to play a detrimental role in preventing cardiovascular diseases, strengthening the immune system, treating neurodegenerative disorders and more. However, little has been established on the efficacy of taking vitamin E supplements as the micronutrient is present in abundance across a spectrum of food choices. Excessive vitamin E supplementation in some cases has also shown to cause the various problems it aims to solve. Excess of vitamin E makes us prone to cardiovascular problems. diabetes and even strokes in some cases. Hence, one must be cognizant of their daily vitamin E intake and ensure that they don’t exceed the daily recommended limit. While you ensure the right amount of vitamins are included in your diet, health emergencies can strike anytime. Hence, ensure you are prepared with adequate Health Insurance.

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