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Vitamin E Overview

Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin that makes up a family of eight related compounds known as tocopherols and tocotrienols. Alpha-tocopherol is the most active form of vitamin E in humans. Vitamin E was discovered in the early 1930’s when rats fed a diet free of vegetable oils (the primary dietary source of vitamin E) resulted in reproductive problems.

Alpha tocopherol and the other seven forms of vitamin E are powerful biological antioxidants. They protect living cells against the effects of free radicals, which are potentially damaging by-products of the body’s own metabolism. Free radicals can cause cell damage that may contribute to the development of cardiovascular disease and cancer.

The natural form of vitamin E, d-alpha-tocopherol is superior to the synthetic, dl-alpha tocopherol, in terms of absorption and retention in the body. However, the synthetic "dl-" form is the most common form found in dietary supplements. Research shows that vitamin E may reduce risk of cardiovascular disease; boost immune system function; act as an antioxidant; enhance topical wound healing; and reduce cancer risk. Vitamin E protects cell membranes from the damage caused by free radicals. In addition, high doses decrease blood clotting which may reduce risk of heart disease.

Vitamin E deficiency is associated with cataracts, heart disease, lung problems, and liver damage. The level of vitamin E intake required for heart, lung, eye and cancer protection are 10-30 times higher than the current RDA levels.

Dietary Sources: Vegetable oils, margarine, nuts, seeds, avocados and wheat germ contain vitamin E, however, you need to eat about 60 almonds to get the RDA for vitamin E and about 400-800 to get the amount of vitamin E, 200-400 IU, associated with health benefits.

Dosage: The RDA for vitamin E is 15 mg or 22 IU, but most research studies show that optimal intakes associated with health benefits are in the range of 100-800 IU.

Side Effects: Unlike other fat-soluble vitamins, such as A, D and K, vitamin E is relatively non-toxic, even at doses of 1,000 or more percent of the current RDA.


Research Overview

Human and animal research emphasizes the effects of Vitamin E on cancer, heart disease, and cataracts in the following studies. However, it becomes obvious in these studies that Vitamin E works best in conjunction with other nutrients, especially the antioxidants: Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Beta-carotene, and selenium. We question the relative value of studying single nutrients when they function in the body in synergy.

1. Conclusions in a 20-year literature review were that Vitamin E and associated nutrients should occur at the onset of prostate cancer.
2. Along with Vitamin C and Beta-carotene, Vitamin E can hinder cataracts.
3. Both vitamins E and C slowed the advancement of atherosclerosis in men.
4. There was a significant improvement in the symptoms of radiation proctitis with the use of Vitamin E and Vitamin C and were sustained at a one-year follow-up
5. Conclusions in a review were that there is significant evidence to support the supplementation of vitamins E, C and A to lower the risk of death from CVD.
6. Vitamin E and C along with folic acid improved flow-mediated dilation (FMD), and reduced homocysteine in the blood.
7. Supplementation with antioxidants (vitamins E and C) can stabilize EDNO, a positive therapy in the prevention of coronary artery disease.
8. A review found that antioxidants Vitamins E and C might improve immune function and decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, cataracts and asthma.
9. The successful use of nutritional supplements in the treatment of retina disease is reported.
10. A survey of cardiologists indicated that they supplemented with the antioxidant Vitamin E more than Vitamin C.
11. Patients with coronary artery disease (CAD) had significantly lower blood levels of vitamins E, C and A compared with healthy control group.
12. Vitamin C, Vitamin E and Beta-carotene in the diet through fruits and vegetables may be crucial to risk reduction of gastric cancers. In other studies, Vitamin C was the most significant factor in risk prevention of gastric cancer.
13. Research on various forms of cardiomyopathy indicates a role for Vitamin E.
14. Preliminary research shows that a diet supplemented with vitamins/selenium, including Vitamin E, might be important in prevention or therapy of mechanically induced osteoarthritis.
15. Vitamins E and C are beneficial in preventing the advancement of arteriosclerosis in heart transplant patients.
16. Carotene, vitamin c, and vitamin E are protective, most likely in combination with each other and other micronutrient components against development of oral, pharyngeal, and esophageal cancers according to 35 epidemiological studies.
17. Long-term, current users of vitamin E with vitamin C had significantly better mental performance than did women who had never used vitamin E or vitamin C.
18. Antioxidant supplementation with Vitamin E, C, Beta-carotene, and selenium improves lung function.
19. Vitamins E and C may prevent dementia and improve cognitive functioning in later life.
20. A group of trauma victims on antioxidant Vitamin E and Vitamin C for seven days had fewer infections, fewer organ dysfunctions vs. the control group.
21. Antioxidants including vitamin E decrease oxidative stress in competitive athletes.
22. Both vitamin E and vitamin C were found to reduce lipid peroxidation.
23. Antioxidant Vitamin E and Vitamin C improved the biochemistry of high-risk preeclampsia women.
24. Antioxidant vitamin E and vitamin C offer protection against peroxidation from UVB radiation
25. In an animal study, vitamin E and vitamin C combated the negative effect of aging on ovarian oocytes.

Vitamin E Abstracts (55)

Vitamin E Citations (398)