The vitamins information pages - Vitamin E
Description Vitamin E
Vitamine E is a name for eight antioxidants, of which the only one active in the human body is referred to as α-tocopherol.
Functions of Vitamin E
Vitamin E is an antioxidant which intercepts free radicals and therefore prevents lipid destruction chain reactions. It maintains the integrity of cell membranes. Vitamin E is essential for the maintenance of the heart function, for functioning of sex organs and for cell protection. It is part of the immune system and protects persons from skin and scar tissue and inflammation. Vitamin E deficiency occurs as a result of malnutrition, genetic defects or fat malabsorption syndromes. A vitamin E deficiency is hard to recognize as it has no visible indication. It may result in impaired balance and coordination or muscle weakness.
Vitamin E in food
Vitamin E can be found in vegetable oils, nuts, seeds, soy beans, beans, avocados, margarine, egg yolk, flour, whole grains and green leafy vegetables. All eight forms of vitamin E, including α-tocopherol, occur naturally in food stuffs in varying amounts.
Vitamin E as a supplement
Vitamin E can be used to prevent or aid the treatment of cardiovascular disease, Post Menstrual Syndrome (PMS), menstrual pains, muscle and joint pains, dementia and menopausal troubles. It may also be useful for stroke victims, children with eczema or asthma and premature babies. Extra vitamin E must be taken by people suffering from the flu because α-tocopherol has the ability to enhance antibody formation.
After reactions with free radicals the antioxidant function of vitamin E is lost. However, vitamin C may regenerate vitamin E active groups. The impact of a vitamin K deficiency can be enhanced by vitamin E supplements. Vitamin E absorption may be decreased by a number of medicins, such as cholestyramine, isoniazid, mineral oil, sucralfate, and the fat substitute olestra. Plasma levels of vitamin E may be decreased by anticonvulsant drugs.
People on blood thinnes should not take vitamin E, because it increases the risk of haemorrhaging. Vitamin E can affect insulin requirements, so it may also be a risk for diabetics.
Descriptions of vitamins on this website are based on information provided by BBC Health and The Linus Pauling Institute.