Getting the right form of vitamin E.

Vitamin E is fat-soluble and exists in eight different forms. Alpha-tocopherol is the most active form of vitamin E in humans and it also happens to be a potent antioxidant.

In addition, it’s an excellent team player: it works with other antioxidant substances, combining to produce a synergistically antioxidant effect in the body.

Battling the free radicals

But the reason this vitamin is currently attracting a lot of attention from scientists is because of its action on free radicals, which are by-products of normal metabolism and pollutants ingested by the body.

These harmful chemicals can easily damage cells and may contribute to the development of cardiovascular disease and cancer.

This powerful vitamin scavenges them and basically neutralises them, so they don’t damage the tissues and red blood cells. Experts hope that vitamin E might turn out to be a lifesaver for millions of people at risk of serious diseases. So far, the results of their experiments are promising.

But wait..there's more!

And that’s just one useful function of this essential substance. Vitamin E plays a key role in reproductive function and hormonal balance (it may be especially helpful for treating premenstrual syndrome); it’s also vital for proper immune function, DNA repair and a whole host of other metabolic processes.

It regulates your retinol (vitamin A) level, which is essential for healthy skin, mucous membranes and proper vision, and it may help skin recover from acne scarring.

We can all benefit from making sure our vitamin E levels stay at a healthy level. But people suffering from Crohn’s disease (an inflammatory bowel condition) or cystic fibrosis (an inherited disease that affects the lungs, gastrointestinal tract, pancreas, and liver) may especially need vitamin E, because these conditions affect normal nutrient absorption.

Heart and arteries

Preliminary research has shown that vitamin E may help prevent or delay coronary heart disease, and it probably does this by preventing the oxidisation of cholesterol. When cholesterol is oxidised, it turns into “bad” cholesterol and starts clogging up the arteries.

Over time, the situation degenerates and the result can eventually be a heart attack or stroke. Vitamin E also may help prevent the formation of blood clots, which could lead to a heart attack.

Medical studies support vitamin E use

A study of approximately 90,000 nurses suggested that the incidence of heart disease was 30% to 40% lower among nurses with the highest intake of vitamin E from diet and supplements. Not only that, but the apparent benefit was mainly associated with vitamin E taken as a supplement.

A study of over 5000 Finnish people aged between 30 and 69 years also suggested that increased intake of vitamin E was associated with decreased death rates from heart disease.


Tests are still underway, but because antioxidants such as vitamin E seem to help protect cell membranes against the damaging effects of free radicals, scientists are hoping they can also help the body avoid diseases like cancer.

They probably do this by preventing the development of nitrosamines, carcinogens which form in the stomach from nitrites eaten in food.

In addition, the fact that vitamin E boosts immune function can also only help.

Prostate cancer and breast, colon and bladder cancer

Evidence from tests shows people with a higher intake of vitamin E sometimes have a lower incidence of prostate cancer, breast cancer and colon cancer.

Plus, The American Cancer society has released results from a long-term study of nearly one hundred thousand adults across the United States. They discovered that people who regularly consumed a vitamin E supplement for longer than 10 years had a reduced risk of death from bladder cancer.

Vitamin E and cataracts

Cataracts are abnormal growths in the lens of the eye, which cloud vision and can lead to blindness.

Scientists are looking at antioxidants to see whether they can help prevent or delay cataract growth. So far, their tests have shown that lens clarity, which is used to diagnose cataracts, was better in regular users of vitamin E supplements.

Where can I find good sources of vitamin E?

Lots of people are concerned about their fat intake in this age of diets and junk food. But not all fat is bad for you. The body needs some for producing healthy skin and hair, and for proper brain and reproductive organ functioning, among other activities.

Not only that, but vitamin E is fat-soluble, so without enough fat, you won’t get your quota of vitamin E.

All in all, it’s vital that you include some healthy kinds of fat from vegetable oils and nuts that also provide vitamin E.

In addition, green leafy vegetables and fortified cereals are commonly available good food sources of vitamin E.

It’s not as easy to get vitamin E from your food, as it is to get some of the other nutrients. To be on the safe side, you can also take it in the form of a high quality nutritional supplement.

Medical references 195,196,197,198,199,200,201,202,203

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