The Basics of Vitamin E, Everything You Wanted to Know But Were Afraid to Ask
Vitamin E is one of the four fat-soluble vitamins required by the body. The other fat-soluble vitamins are Vitamin A, D and K. Vitamin E is an effective antioxidant and one of it functions in protecting the body from free radicals that may cause aging and cancer.
It may also be known as Tocopherol, Tocotrienol, E307, E308 or E309. The term “Vitamin E” is used for any of the eight tocopherols and four tocotrienols. The most popular of this class of substances is the alpha-tocopherol because it is the most studied due to its fast absorption potential in the body.
Functions of Vitamin E in the Body
This vitamin aids in wound healing, especially in cases of burns and other injuries. The presence of Vitamin E in the body also lowers the risk of developing cancer and heart disease. Because of its antioxidant effects, Vitamin E is also associated in the prevention of aging.
Vitamin E exerts it antioxidant effect by reacting with the free radicals, which are the intermediate products of peroxidation reactions of lipids in the body. By removing the intermediate products, the reaction cannot go further and the cell membranes of the cells are protected from damage.
This vitamin also performs a role in cell communication, which is very important particularly to the immune system, tissue repairs, and development of the body.
Sources of Natural Vitamin E
Vegetable oils – such as canola, sunflower, olive, corn and soybean oils – are some of the natural sources of Vitamin E. It is also found in avocadoes, almonds, hazelnuts, wheat germ, asparagus, milk and spinach.
Forms of Vitamin E
The most well known form of vitamin E is the alpha tocopherol, which is the content of most vitamin E supplements in the market. The other forms of vitamin E also act by protecting the cells of the body from oxidation. For example, gamma tocopherol is also a potent nucleophile that reacts with mutagens that seek electrons. The tocotrienols, on the other hand, play a role in cancer prevention, neuron protection and cholesterol reduction.
Vitamin E Deficiency
Poor nerve conduction is the major effect of a deficiency of this vitamin. This will lead to neuromuscular problems including myopathies and spinocerebellar ataxia.
Vitamin E Toxicity
Too much of this vitamin in the body may cause toxicity. Because of its anticoagulant effects, an overdose of vitamin E can increase the risk of bleeding problems. As a guide, a person should not take more than 1000 mg of vitamin E.