Vitamin-E: Your Protection Against Pollution
Vitamin E is one of the fat-soluble vitamins, those vitamins that are stored in the body's fat stores and also absorbed best when fat is in the meal.
There are seven tocopherol forms of vitamin E, most ending in the word tocopherol. These seven forms are alpha, beta, delta, epsilon, gamma, zeta, and eta. There are additional forms including tocotrienol and tocopherol acetate. The acetate form is the provitamin, a precursor form to vitamin E.
Strong Antioxidant Action from Vitamin E
Vitamin E prevents fats and fat-soluble vitamins, vitamin C, coQ 10 and the B complex vitamins, pituitary and adrenal hormones from breaking down and also prevents them from combining with other substances that will cause damage in the body. It does this by decreasing the formation of free radicals in the body. Free radicals can damage DNA, increase aging, and cause cancer. It interferes with oxidation by performing this function.
Vitamin E is known as one of the anti-aging vitamins. This is because the vitamin is instrumental in retarding the oxidation processes in the body, which contribute to aging. It is also important for the eyes to focus properly.
This ability of vitamin E to deal with free radicals makes it a vitamin that is important for decreasing the negative, damaging effects of pollution in the air, water and food. Vitamin E protects the lungs from lung pollution and also neutralizes harmful ozone.
When vitamin E combines with oxygen to prevent free radical formation, it protects the red blood cells. By doing this, it also increases oxygenation of the blood. This process is important for helping you perform any physical activity to the best of your ability and giving you endurance and stamina. Vitamin E makes it possible for muscles and nerves to function with less oxygen. It is also known as a vasodilator, opening up the blood vessels. Vitamin E inhibits coagulation of the blood, preventing clots.
When you get a deep wound, using vitamin E topically can reduce scar formation . This is one of the reasons vitamin E ointment or the straight vitamin E oil is used on burns; the less scars a burn patient has, the better the healing can occur.
Most people do not know that vitamin E is a diuretic as well. Diuretics generally lower elevated blood pressure.
Is It Possible to Have a Vitamin E Deficiency?
The more polyunsaturated fats in your diet, the more vitamin E you will need. One of the first clinical signs of vitamin E deficiency is the rupture of red blood cells. The vitamin apparently is needed for the cell membrane's stability. Muscle wasting, abnormal fat deposits in the muscles and increased demand for oxygen are additional signs. The increased demand for oxygen may show up as shortness, out of breath, no endurance and no stamina.
Because vitamin E is such an important part of cell structure, a deficiency can cause the blood cells to break down. Because vitamin E is important for amino acids to be used in the body as well as pituitary and adrenal glands to function properly, a deficiency will reduce the functioning of the organs. Damage to the liver and kidneys can result. Iron absorption is also decreased with a deficiency.
Vitamin E is a key supplement in the reversal of heart disease and aging. The vitamin has also been helpful in acne scar reversal, regulating excessive or scanty menses, fibrocystic breast disease, diminishing hot flashes, breast tenderness, bursitis, wry-neck, nearsightedness, gout, crossed eyes, to prevent calcification of the kidneys from large doses of vitamin D, thrombosis, muscular dystrophy, viral infections, diabetics, varicose veins, lowering blood cholesterol, headaches.
Vitamin E can also help reduce side effects from painkillers such as morphine, codeine, and aminopyrine.
In athletes, vitamin E supplementation improves performance, endurance and speed of recovery.
Food Sources Will Never Provide Strong Protection
Vitamin E is measured in international units. One international unit, abbreviated I.U., is equal to 2/3 mg D-alpha-tocopherol or 1 mg of dl-alpha-tocopherol.
Foods high in vitamin E include almonds and other nuts, asparagus, avocado, seeds, spinach and wheat germ. Nuts or fats that contain vitamin E must be fresh; rancidity means the vitamin E is not biologically active and actually is harmful to the body.
However, it is common for nutritionists and health practitioners to add a supplement of 400 I.U. for extra protection of the heart and to negate the effects of pollution we all are exposed to on a daily basis.
Should You Be Concerned with Toxicity?
Vitamin E is nontoxic except in those who have high blood pressure and those with chronic rheumatic heart disease. High blood pressure patients may develop higher blood pressure levels with the addition of vitamin E, especially in excess of 400 IU per day. The same thing can happen to those with rheumatic heart disease. If these patients wish to use vitamin E, they must start with small dosages, such as 100 IU and gradually increase the amount. Proceeding in this way can prevent the increase in blood pressure.
1. Dunne, Lavon. Nutrition Almanac, McGraw-Hill Publishing, 2002.