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Vitamin E Tocopherol

A brief guide to fat-soluble E vitamin,
also known as alpha-tocopherol

Vitamin E comes is essential to many functions in the body. As an antioxidant it can protect the body cells from free radicals damage. But it's most notable function is in preventing heart disease. It can also help contain existing heart disease and stop it from getting worse.

This is a fat-soluble vitamin that comes in 8 different forms, divided in two groups: tocopherols and tocotrienols. Each group has 4 chemical forms: alpha, beta, gama, and delta. But it's mainly alpha-tocopherol that's useful to humans, as the most active form of vitamin E. Hence the reference to this vitamin as alpha-tocopherol or vitamin E tocopherol.

Vitamin E benefits to the body

As already mentioned, being an antioxidant, vitamin E is vital in protecting the cell membranes from the harmful free radicals that are oxygenation by-products. These loose electrons seek to bond with other elements in the cell, creating damage in the process. Antioxidants (all vitamins), including vitamin E, scavenge free radicals and prevent them from doing the damage. Apart from inflammation, free radicals damage can lead to heart disease and cancer in the long run.

A large sunflower against a blue sky, with bees pollinating it.

Sunflower seeds and sunflower oil are among best sources of vitamin E,
antioxidant that's vital for our heart health, immunity and cancer prevention.

The reason that the E vitamin is so effective against free radicals is that it is fat soluble so it can be easily absorbed into the cell membranes. Therefore, vitamin E is essential to keeping your immune system functioning well.

But its primary role seems to be preventing heart disease. This is done through its ability to inhibit blood cells components from sticking to blood vessels walls, thereby improving the blood flow. Furthermore, vitamin E helps dilate blood vessels and prevent blood platelets from grouping together. This all improves the blood flow through the vessels, and thus through the body. In turn, not only the heart but other body organs, including the brain, function better.

Some manufacturers of cold sore medications include Vitamin E to help speed the healing process. A combination of Vitamin E and aloe vera seems to be a very popular remedy that many claim to be very effective in the treatment of severely chapped lips, cold sores and minor infections.

Also, a particular form of vitamin E, alpha-tocopheryl acetate, is used in skin care products, acting as an antioxidant for skin protection from the UV rays, which is one of the causes of free radicals. It also has an anti-inflammatory effect on the skin.

A tray with green and red tomatoes, two halves of avocado, garlic cloves and a batch of asparagus

In addition to green leafy vegetables, avocado, asparagus and tomato are all
good food sources of vitamin E that should be part of your nutrition.

Vitamin E deficiency

A deficiency of the E vitamin does not show immediate effects. It can take months of insufficient vitamin E intake before its effects are noticed. Some of the effects of vitamin E deficiency can be to the nerves of the spinal cord or retina. This could be serious, but it's very rare, mostly because people usually obtain enough of vitamin E through regular nutrition. The only requirement is that their daily food intake contains some fat, which makes vitamin E soluble and easily absorbed into the cells.

There are some medical conditions that can lead to a deficiency in this vitamin and require vitamin E supplementation:

  • Cystic fibrosis causes a person to be unable to digest fats well, which can lead to less of the e vitamin being absorbed.
  • Crohn's disease causes lower absorption rates of the vitamin E, requiring supplementation in this vitamin.
  • Some forms of liver disease can also lead to problems with the body absorbing vitamin E, especially through intestines. Supplementation will help.
  • If you are on an extremely low-fat diet, you might need to discuss your options for increasing the amount of vitamin E with your qualified fitness specialist or nutritionist.
seeds and nuts

Wheat germs are the richest source of vitamin E, but the next on the list of food
sources for the E vitamin are sunflower seeds and some varieties of nuts.

RDA and vitamin E sources

The recommended daily amount of the E vitamin that a person requires depends on their body weight and nutrition. The more fat someone's diet contains, the more of vitamin E is needed.

The reason for this is that the only foods that really contain an reasonable amount of the E vitamin are mostly non-fat. So, if your daily food intake involves much fat, you need to either include vitamin E food sources in your daily diet, or take vitamin E supplements.

Vitamin E food sources are:

  • vegetable oils - sunflower, soybean, wheat germs and corn oil
  • green leafy vegetables - broccoli, spinach and beet greens
  • sunflower seeds
  • nuts - almonds, peanuts, peanut butter, hazelnuts
  • vegetables - avocade, asparagus, tomato
  • fruit - mango, kiwi

By far, your best food source for this vitamin is wheat germ oil, followed by sunflower, almonds, hazelnuts and peanuts.

In addition to above mentioned benefits and uses of vitamin E, there has also been a focus on this vitamin as an antiaging element. Earlier studies indicated that this vitamin slowed the aging process in laboratory experiments. It's another reason why many skin care products and cosmetics, including anti-aging creams, often include the E vitamin.

More recent research suggests that it can also help reduce cognitive decline. So, load up on your vitamin E via your nutrition or supplementation.

   Guide to Vitamins
Vitamins Food Sources
Vitamins Food Sources
Multivitamins Benefits
Multivitamins Benefits
Vitamin A Beta Carotene
Vitamin A Beta Carotene
B Vitamins Group
B Vitamins Group
Vitamin B1 Thiamin
Vitamin B1 Thiamin
Vitamin B2 Riboflavin
Vitamin B2 Riboflavin
Vitamin B3 Niacin
Vitamin B3 Niacin
Vitamin C Ascorbic Acid
Vitamin C Ascorbic Acid
Vitamin D Kalciferol
Vitamin D Kalciferol
Vitamin E Tocopherol
Vitamin E Tocopherol
   

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