What are the benefits of vitamin E?

Most of the health benefits of vitamin E stem from it's function as an antioxidant. Because antioxidants don't exert a specific function in cells, some confusion exists around the role and benefits of vitamin E. At the bottom line, if we want to answer the question what does vitamin E do, it's simple. It prevents disease. Heart disease, diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer's, you name it.

But what is the right dose? And what is the evidence? What are the risks? This section of vita-dose.com explores all of these questions.

Many non-infectious diseases have a common thread of oxidative stress. As the premier lipid-based antioxidant in your body, the main job of vitamin E is to combat that oxidative stress, and thereby prevent disease.

Let's start with the basics: what is vitamin E anyway?

Alpha-tocopherol is part of a family of 8 similar fat-based antioxidant compounds, shown below. These are all active antioxidants, but only alpha tocopherol is specifically retained in the body. Alpha tocopherol got named as a vitamin because it was found to be necessary for fertility in female rats. But because the body is designed to retain vitamin E for long periods of time, it is highly unlikely that you have a vitamin E deficiency. While vitamin E deficiency can occur under conditions of extreme malnurishment, it is only common when associated with genetic abnormalities in lipid absorption and retention.

The inside story on vitamin E deficiency

vitamin E structure, facts about vitamin E, what is vitamin E, tocopherol, tocotrienol, tocomin

Question: If vitamin E is just an antioxidant, what makes it so special?

The human genome is wired up with a special network of proteins designed to carry and distribute alpha tocopherol, or vitamin E. Because these proteins specifically recognize alpha tocopherol, the other vitamin E family members are eliminated much more quickly. This pre-designed retention is the same reason that vitamin E trumps other antioxidants like resveratrol and quercetin.

Another factor differentiates vitamin E from the antioxidant pack. Alpha-tocopherol and the other vitamin E-like compounds are fat-based and therefore partition into cell membanes, protecting them from free-radical based damage. Free radical damage occurs spontaneously, and also in response to environmental pollution or toxic compounds in the body. Free radical chain reactions can destroy the lipid membranes of cells, and vitamin E promotes cellular integrity. These antioxidant properties are what confers many of the health benefits of vitamin E. One of the clearest examples of antioxidant health benefits of vitamin E is in the neuroprotective qualities .

Why has vitamin E gotten a bad rap in the clinical trials?

What does research say about the neurological benefits of vitamin E?

Clinical evidence for health benefits of vitamin E

What are the risks of vitamin E supplements?

Is it possible to have a vitamin E overdose?

What about vitamin E side effects?

If you thoroughly read the data on vitamin E and then you aren't a little confused, you probably aren't paying close enough attention. But as I describe in the articles above, I continue to supplement by alternating a mixture of tocotrienols from palm oil called Tocomin with natural alpha tocopherol. If you are interested in the health benefits of vitamin E, there are some important things you should know. First, natural tocopherol is completely worth the additional cost. I explain why in the link below. Second, if you want the antioxidant benefits of vitamin E, supplementation is critical. It is a waste of your time attempting to get effective quantities of vitamin E from food sources. But if you want to try, I've compiled a list of high vitamin E foods. Finally, if you supplement with vitamin E, you might want to consider the more potent tocotrienol form as well.

Why natural tocopherols are worth the added cost

Don't waste your time trying to get enough vitamin E from foods. Here's why

List of foods high in vitamin E

Vitamin E Facts Sheet

Tocotrienols: becase there is more to vitamin E than tocopherols

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