The Benefits of Vitamin E

The benefits of vitamin E are now fairly well
established. Out of a controversial past it has
become clear that vitamin E plays important
roles as an antioxidant, in your immune
system, in preventing heart disease and even
in helping prevent cancer. As if this wasn’t
enough, the research continues into other
beneficial effects that vitamin E may have.
It’s not particularly easy to come by however
meaning if you want to get all the benefits you
probably should consider a supplement to
your diet.

Vitamin E has many uses. Vitamin E plays an
important role as an antioxidant. This means that it
is important in preventing the damaging effects of
free radicals which are by-products of many
normal body processes. Vitamin E can works
alongside the other important antioxidants, vitamin
C and beta-carotene.

It is only relatively recently that the benefits of
vitamin E in preventing heart disease have been
well proven despite it being suspected since the
1940s. Studies have shown that taking regular
vitamin E, either through diet or supplements can
have quite dramatic effects to lower your risk of
heart disease. In addition to it’s preventative
effects, there have been other studies which have
indicated that vitamin E can help stop the
progression of heart disease which has already
been established. Another way in which it acts is
to help prevent severe blood clots which can in
some cases be highly dangerous. So all around
vitamin E can offer some great benefits against
heart disease.

It has been known for some time that vitamin E
can boost the immune system. The antioxidant
effects of vitamin E help the immune reaction, but
in addition vitamin E works to protect cell
membranes against being penetrated by attacking

The idea that vitamin E might help prevent cancer
came from observations that people with cancer
often have low levels of vitamin E. So the question
that needs answering is - does one cause the
other? Do low levels of vitamin E make people
more likely to develop cancer, or does having
cancer cause your levels of vitamin E to drop?
There is growing evidence that low levels of
vitamin E do make you more likely to develop
cancer. This is good news because we can do
something about low levels of vitamin E – get
more, and reduce our cancer risk. The antioxidant
effects of vitamin E seem to be what is giving this
protection. So far there is evidence of this effect in
acting against colon, cervical and breast cancers
and possibly lung cancer. Another benefit can
come in patients who are receiving radiation
therapy for cancer in whom vitamin E appears to
help reduce the side effects of treatment.

For normal nerve function vitamin E is essential.
Long term deficiency of vitamin E can show itself
in terms of damage to the nerves.

The effects of vitamin E deficiency are not as
dramatic as the effects of not getting enough of
many of the other vitamins. A long-term deficiency
E may lead to nerve damage and even
neurological disorders. These kinds of deficiencies
are pretty rare and can be difficult to identify.
Many of these disorders may be treated by
vitamin E supplementation. People may get
deficiencies who have disorders which lead to
them not being able to absorb much vitamin E,
such as those with Crohn’s disease, liver disease
or cystic fibrosis. However, also people who are
on very low fat or low calorie diets for long
periods of time should make sure they are getting
enough vitamin E.

As with many other vitamins, the Recommended
Daily Allowance (RDA) is the minimum amount
necessary to avoid becoming deficient. For adults
this is about 12-15 IUs (International Units). It is
really more useful to take a look at how much is
generally considered to be good for you, so you
make sure and get all the positive effects of vitamin
E. Taking too much, like any other vitamin, can be
dangerous. These levels are as follows:

Adults – From age 10 and up, 30 to 400 IU
(International Units)

The amount will vary depending upon your size
and diet.

Children – Less than ten years old – no more than
200 IU per day

Infants – no more than 50 IU per day

Vitamin E is pretty hard to come by in most foods.
There just isn’t much of it around. A normal
healthy diet will give you about 15 IUs per day.
This comes from foods such as vegetable oils,
whole-grains, eggs, flour and vegetables.

In order to get the full benefits that vitamin E can
offer, you are going to have to consider a
supplement. As with most vitamins, there are an
enormous variety of options. Most multivitamins
will cover your vitamin E needs quite nicely,