Vitamin E

Essential Micronutrient

OVERVIEW

Summary

One of the most highly acclaimed antioxidant vitamins, Vitamin E is absolutely essential for our survival and is a must-have for our daily regimen. As a scavenger of free radicals, this fat-soluble vitamin appears to be powerfully effective against deterioration of cells and is especially revered for decreasing signs of aging. Usually found in a high-quality multivitamin/mineral or antioxidant formula, the natural form (d-alpha-tocopherol) is notably best.


Other names for Vitamin E

alpha-tocopherol, tocopherol, d- (or dl-) alpha-tocopherol

Where to find Vitamin E

It can prove difficult to increase Vitamin E intake with food alone without also increasing fat intake because the best sources are vegetable, seed, or nut oils or nuts.

Note: When consuming a low-fat diet, it is more difficult to absorb fat-soluble vitamins such as E because there is less fatty substance to hold the nutrient in place within the organ; therefore, additional Vitamin E intake, throughout the day, is recommended.

Popup: Foods highest in Vitamin E

Daily Value

The Daily Value for Vitamin E is 30 IU.

PERFORMANCE BENEFITS

Why athletes use Vitamin E

Vitamin E is an extraordinary antioxidant that is vital for all people, especially those who place greater physical demands and stress on their bodies. During and after intense exercise, it helps boost immune function and reduce oxidative cell damage caused by free radicals. It can help athletes experiencing muscle fatigue after workouts diminish soreness and decrease recovery time and is essential as an antioxidant for those who are fighting illness or infection.

Ways that Vitamin E can enhance Longevity:
  • Protect cell membranes to reduce free-radical damage, specifically in the heart, muscles, and glands
  • Support other essential nutrients, by preventing their breakdown, ensuring a healthy heart

HEALTH BENEFITS

Signs of Vitamin E deficiency

Deficiency of Vitamin E has been linked to:

  • Fatigue/Weakness
  • Negative hydrogen levels in the body
Potential uses for Vitamin E

Research indicates that Vitamin E may also be useful in the treatment of:

  • Night blindness or near-sightedness
  • Common cold
  • Wounds/injuries

DISCUSSION


More about Vitamin E

Vitamin E is a fat-soluble nutrient our bodies simply cannot survive without. It appears to be especially effective against the deterioration of brain and immune function and also protects our bodies from free-radical damage by neutralizing them before they can damage cells of our fatty-tissue organs, such as the heart, liver, and lungs.

Rapidly recover from intense workouts

This essential vitamin is partly responsible for the regeneration or “rebuilding” of all kinds of tissues in our bodies, including blood, skin, bone, muscle, and nerves. This is, of course, necessary for everyone but even more so for those of us who work out intensely.

You see, as we train, we’re continually breaking down muscle tissue, which we then need to rebuild. One study showed E virtually eliminated much of the damage caused by intense workouts and thus may significantly help active individuals reduce the risk of infection that is often a symptom of overtraining.

Other research has indicated that Vitamin E may improve insulin sensitivity and glucose clearance, which helps transport nutrients, like amino acids and blood sugar, into muscle cells and may promote muscle protein synthesis. Yet more research indicates athletes who supplement with Vitamin E immediately after their workouts recover better.

Other good news

This fat-soluble vitamin, which is absorbed through the intestines and stored mostly in the liver and fatty tissues, also appears to help lower cholesterol, reduce abnormal blood clotting, promote healing, relax leg cramps, and improve circulation.

In addition, Vitamin E supports other essential nutrients by preventing their breakdown. It also protects other fat-soluble vitamins from being destroyed and has been shown in many studies to potentially help decrease signs of aging by slowing the degeneration of all tissues.

Stacks of research reveal that supplementation with Vitamin E may be a powerfully preventative form of therapy, aiding in many of the body’s systems and protecting us against many of the toxins in our environments and a wide array of complications, including menopause, heart and vascular disease, high blood pressure, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, arthritis, senility, arteriosclerosis, diseases of the eyes, stroke, muscular dystrophy, fibromyalgia, bursitis, and HIV. Whew — that’s quite a list.

In conclusion

It’s virtually impossible to get sufficient amounts of Vitamin E from food sources alone — foods that have been refined or processed lack adequate amounts, and foods high in Vitamin E, such as nuts and oils, are by nature also high in fat and calories. Therefore, supplementation of this antioxidant is considered a must by many nutritional experts and is usually taken in a high-quality multivitamin/mineral or antioxidant formula.

NOTES ON USAGE

Amount

Anywhere from 400 to 1,200 IU’s, taken daily, is a typical range. The more active the person, the greater amount the body may need.

Tip

Many experts suggest the natural d-alpha-tocopherol, not the synthetic dl form, is best. Considering that the natural form has been shown to be up to 50 percent more potent than dl-alpha-tocopherol (a synthetic version), it might be an obvious choice, so read the label closely on the multivitamin or antioxidant formula.

Timing

Vitamin E is ideally taken in the a.m. before breakfast and/or at night before bed with food.

Synergists of Vitamin E

The antioxidant effects of Vitamin E appear to be enhanced by other antioxidants, such as alpha-lipoic acid (ALA), Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and beta-carotene.

Selenium appears to enhance Vitamin E uptake in the body, thus working synergistically in the fatty tissues.

Recent research combined Vitamin E (500 mg per day), beta-carotene (30 mg per day) for 90 days and added Vitamin C (1 gram per day) for just the last 15 days and found dramatic improvements in the athletes’ antioxidant defenses. In fact, this antioxidant combination was found to enhance the antioxidant enzyme activity of superoxide dismutase (SOD) dramatically.

Toxicity of Vitamin E

Although Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin, toxicity is very rare.

Bans and restrictions

None reported.

RELATED RESEARCH

  • Diplock, A.T., “Will the ‘Good Fairies’ Please Prove to Us that Vitamin E Lessens Human Degenerative Disease?” Free Radic Res 27.5 (1997) : 511-32.
  • Evstigneeva, R.P., et al., “Vitamin E as a Universal Antioxidant and Stabilizer of Biological Membranes,” Membr Cell Biol 12.2 (1998) : 151-72.
  • Hartmann, A., et al., “Vitamin E Prevents Exercise-Induced DNA Damage,” Mutat Res 346.4 (1995) : 195-202.
  • McBride, J.M., et al., “Effect of Resistance Exercise on Free Radical Production,” Med Sci Sports Exerc 30.1 (1998) : 67-72.
  • Paolisso, G., et al., “Pharmacologic Doses of Vitamin E Improve Insulin Action in Healthy Subjects and Non-Insulin-Dependent Diabeitc Patients,” Am J Clin Nutr 57 (1993) : 848-52.
  • Rokitzki, L., et al., “Alpha-Tocopherol Supplementation in Racing Cyclists During Extreme Endurance Training,” Int J Sports Nutr 4.3 (1994) : 253-64.
  • Tauler, P., et al., “Diet Supplementation with Vitamin E, Vitamin C, and Beta-Carotene Cocktail Enhances Basal Neutrophil Antioxidant Enzymes in Athletes,” Pflgers Archiv: European Journal Of Physiology 443.5-6 (2002) : 791-7.