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The Therapeutic Benefits of Vitamin E

Written by Katolen Yardley, MNIMH ~ Medical Herbalist

A powerful antioxidant and used for immune system support, Vitamin E is known for its ability to help prevent degenerative conditions as cancer, cardiovascular disease, anemia, cataracts and some signs of premature aging; while promoting healthy nerves and muscles, speeding the healing of wounds, strengthening capillaries and promoting healthy, youthful skin, hair and nails. The most widely known health benefits of vitamin E are protection against toxins such as air pollution, premenstrual syndrome, eye disorders such as cataracts, neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, and diabetes.

 Antioxidant properties

  • Vitamin E, along with other vitamins C, B3, beta carotene, selenium and glutathione, protect healthy cells from the effects of oxidative stress caused by free radicals within our bodies.
  • Due to pollution, cigarette smoke, air pollution, ultraviolet radiation. or other oxidative factors, free radicals may increase and exceed the body’s ability to  neutralise their harmful effects; these unstable compounds can damage our healthy cells, leading to premature aging and possibly contributing to diseases such as atherosclerosis and cancer and other chronic disease. Free radicals are highly reactive molecules that contain a free/ unshared electron. Antioxidants offer a spare electron – binding to the unstable free radical- and help protect against the accelerated cell destruction and other damaging effects.
  • The majority of vitamin E’s benefits stem from its antioxidant qualities. It protects polyunsaturated fats and other oxygen-sensitive compounds such as vitamin A from being destroyed by damaging oxidation reactions. There is significant evidence vitamin E can protect against heart disease and may slow the deterioration associated with aging.
  • Vitamin E also acts as an antioxidant in foods. The vitamin E in vegetable oils acts as a natural preservative, keeping food from being oxidized and turning rancid.

Women’s Health

  • An excellent supplement for managing hot flushes in pre or post menopause as well as helping to minimise vaginal dryness
  • Used in prenatal conception preparation as it is thought to be THE fertility vitamin for both men and women.
  • Women who suffer from fibrocystic breast disease can often find relief with vitamin E supplementation. Fibrocystic breast disease is characterized by painful breasts, sometimes with benign lumps or swelling, starting several days before the menstrual period.

Skin Protection

  • Whether applied topically or ingested, vitamin E can protect our skin from ultraviolet radiation, thus guarding us from both skin cancer and premature aging.
  • Vitamin E applied topically to cuts may increase the healing rate as it minimizes oxidation reactions in the wound.
  • Because of its antioxidant properties, vitamin E supplementation can help improve circulation of blood to the scalp. Vitamin E helps strengthen capillary walls while nourishing for both healthy skin and hair.

Immune Enhancement & Cancer Prevention

  • In addition to its activities as an antioxidant, vitamin E is involved in immune function and, as shown primarily by in vitro studies of cells, working with cell signaling, regulation of gene expression, and other metabolic processes. Studies have reported that a diet rich in vitamin E may lessen the likelihood of bladder and prostate cancer.
  • A dynamic cancer fighter, vitamin E helps to protects cell and DNA from damage that can turn cancerous. It helps to reduces the growth of tumors while enhancing immune function and preventing precancerous substances from being turned into carcinogens. Studies with mice show that vitamin E applied to the skin may help prevent skin cancer resulting from exposure to ultraviolet radiation.

Cholesterol Reduction

  • Vitamin E protects artery walls and keeps the “bad” low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol from being oxidized. Oxidation of LDL cholesterol marks the beginning of clogged arteries. Vitamin E also helps to keep the blood thin by preventing blood platelets from clumping together.

Anti-Inflammatory

  • Research has also shown that gamma-tocopherol possesses anti-inflammatory effects that can combat arthritis, rheumatism, asthma, and other inflammatory disorders linked to chronic inflammation.

Blood Thinning Properties

Vitamin E can help to thin the blood which is another significant health benefit. In other words, it prevents the blood platelets from clumping. High levels of vitamin E reduce the risk of sunstroke and coronary artery disorder or heart disease. An excellent supplement as a blood thinner, instead of the over marketed aspirin (linked to gastric bleeding, erosion and numerous other side effects) – Vitamin E is a safe alternative. Always consult your holistic health care provider prior to use if using blood thinners such as warfarin or Coumadin and ensure that you are discontinue Vitamin E for at least 1 week prior if you have a scheduled surgery.

Additional Health Benefits

  • Premature babies often receive vitamin E to reduce or prevent oxygen damage to the retina of the eye as a result of artificial ventilation.
  • Vitamin E can be beneficial to people with diabetes. It enhances the action of insulin and improves blood glucose metabolism by reducing oxidative stress.
  • Nervous system health by offering protection to the myelin sheaths that surround nerves. It also may help to prevent mental degeneration due to aging, possibly including Alzheimer disease. Recent studies have reported improved short-term memory in older adults who took supplemental vitamin E. While vitamin E may not make you live longer, it may help you live a little better as you get older.

How to choose the Right Supplement

Synthetic versus Natural:  Read the fine print and make sure you are taking the natural source of Vitamin E – identified as d’ alpha tocopherol – generally made from wheat germ or soy   -do not use the synthetic vitamin E (dl’alpha tocopherol) – the presence of the ‘L” means its lousy / synthetic – (for memories sake) and sadly created from petroleum based products, dl’alpha tocopherol is not natural at all and has few- if any- health enhancement benefits.

Vitamin E is the generic name for “tocopherol” and is available in various forms. Commonly sold as a supplement as d’alpha tocopherol (read the fine print) there are actually numerous types of vitamin E such as: alpha-, beta-, gamma-, and delta-tocopherol and alpha-, beta-, gamma-, and delta-tocotrienol.

Vitamin E Succinate: is generally sold in an oil encapsulated form, however for those with a preference to avoid oil based products, it is also available in a pure dry powder form as natural d’Alpha Tocopherylacid succinate for longer shelf-life. This dry form of vitamin E is popular with those who wish to avoid oil-based products for any reason.

Mixed Tocopherol Vitamin E: Mixed tocopherols are vitamin E products that contain not only the d’ alpha tocopherol, but also the beta, delta, and gamma forms, providing full spectrum antioxidant support and the largest health benefits. This blend of tocopherols work synergistically as a team for maximum benefit.  A mixed tocopherol vitamin E provides the most optimal protection from free radicals and products of oxygenation, including lipid peroxides and oxygen free radicals. The Thorne Research Ultimate Vitamin E uses mixed tocopherols extracted from a mixture of vegetable oils, including soy oil. However, any potentially allergenic soy residues are removed during the distillation process and, unlike most vitamin E products on the market, Ultimate-E is not diluted with soy oil.

Enhance absorption of Vitamin E by eating a few raw nuts -almonds and walnuts- unroasted and unsalted- alongside the supplement each day.

Many studies conducted on vitamin E have sadly been done using the synthetic vitamin E, which clearly will have a different effect in the body, than a natural source. Most recent studies are showing the benefit on using Vitamin E combined with additional antioxidants (Vitamin C, beta carotene, Co Enzyme Q 10, L Glutamine) for their synergistic protective effect on the immune system in the body.

 Information given here is for consumer education only. It is not meant to replace the advice of a qualified health care professional, nor does intend to diagnose or treat disease.