Vitamin E is a compound whose properties have long been used in medicine, where it is known as the “fertility vitamin” because it is essential for its preservation. In addition, vitamin E has found application in cosmetics, where it has gained fame as the “vitamin of youth” as it delays the aging process of the skin. Check what action vitamin E has and where it is located.
Vitamin E is a group of compounds known as tocopherols. Together with vitamins A, D and K, they belong to the group of fat-soluble vitamins. This means that they are stored in the body (and not excreted in the urine or sweat, like water-soluble vitamins), where they are mainly found in adipose tissue (about 20 mg) and in the adrenal glands.
1. Vitamin E: what functions does it perform in the body?
Vitamin E, in addition to vitamins A and C, is a powerful antioxidant that protects the body against oxidative stress and cell damage caused by free radicals.
Vitamin E is also involved in the synthesis of anticoagulants, maintaining the proper permeability of cell membranes and reducing platelet aggregation (clumping), and thus – prevents blood clots.
It is also involved in the protection of red blood cells, gene expression and the transmission of nerve signals throughout the body. In addition, it affects the proper muscle performance and the production of male sperm.
It is also needed in pregnancy because it is responsible for the maintenance and proper development of the fetus. In addition, vitamin E supports the proper functioning of the eyesight.
2. Vitamin E: deficiency symptoms
Vitamin E deficiency in the body is very rare. It is observed in the case of fat absorption disorders and among people with a rare genetic disease – abetalipoproteinemia (Bassen-Kornzweig syndrome). People with cystic fibrosis and celiac disease are also at risk of vitamin E deficiency.
Symptoms of vitamin E deficiency:
- keratosis and aging of the skin,
- damage to the nervous system,
- muscle degeneration;
- problems with teeth and bones,
- susceptibility to infections,
- neurological disorders,
- soreness and muscle wasting.
3. Can vitamin E be overdosed?
Vitamin E from food is difficult to overdose, but when taking supplements, you should pay special attention. However, even in these cases, excess vitamin E is metabolized and excreted from the body. Only long-term use of doses above 1000 mg / day can cause muscle weakness, headaches, fatigue, intestinal disorders and visual disturbances.
4. The need for vitamin E
According to specialists from the Food and Nutrition Institute, the daily requirement for vitamin E is varied and depends on on age, sex and physiological condition. On average, it is 6 mg in children, 10 mg in men, 8 mg in women (taking birth control pills need more of it) and 20-50 mg in the elderly, over 75 years of age.
It is worth knowing that the absorption of “vitamin of youth” by the body is supported by vitamin A, vitamin B complex, vitamin C, manganese, selenium, phosphorus and essential fatty acids.
5. Vitamin E and liver and prostate cancer
Since vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant, many experts believe that it reduces the risk of cancer. Among them are scientists from the Institute of Oncology in Shanghai and the Vanderbilt University in Nashville (Tennessee, USA) who argue in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute that vitamin E, consumed in high doses – both from food and in the form of supplements – may lower the risk of developing liver cancer, also in people with liver disease or a family risk of liver cancer.
In turn, Finnish researchers argue that vitamin E reduces the risk of prostate cancer in smokers. Their opinion is shared by Australian scientists from Queensland University of Technology, who go a step further and argue that vitamin E can not only reduce the likelihood of developing this cancer, but also support its treatment.
Their research shows that vitamin E supports the treatment of prostate cancer by reducing the growth of the tumor.
Vitamin E owes its healing properties to the specific form of tocotrienol (gamma-tocotrienol) it contains. According to the researchers, this substance effectively inhibits the growth of cancer cells responsible not only for prostate cancer, but also for breast, colon, liver and stomach cancer.
Another relationship between prostate cancer and vitamin E was discovered by scientists from the Cancer Research Center. Fred Hutchinson in Seattle (USA), who in the already mentioned “Journal of the National Cancer Institute” warn that excessive consumption of “vitamin of youth” (greater than the recommended daily intake) and selenium (selenium and vitamin E work synergistically, i.e. Together they are more potent than when administered separately in equivalent doses – ed.) in the diet, increasing the risk of developing this cancer.
In men whose selenium levels were low at the beginning of the study, excessive vitamin E intake (400 units a day) was associated with a 63% increase in overall prostate cancer risk. The increased risk was not noticed in the subjects who took vitamin E together with selenium. The researchers concluded that this element seems to protect against the harmful effects of excess vitamin E. However, excessive selenium (200 µg per day) may also increase the risk of developing prostate cancer.
Due to these discrepancies, it cannot be conclusively stated that vitamin E can prevent cancer formation.
6. Vitamin E and stroke
Many specialists claim that vitamin E prevents heart disease because it reduces the clumping of blood cells and protects against the development of atherosclerosis (it inhibits the oxidation of the LDL cholesterol fraction – the so-called “bad cholesterol”), and thus – e.g. before the development of heart attack and stroke.
The relationship between vitamin E and cardiovascular diseases was investigated by scientists from Harvard University, who argue in the “British Journal of Medicine” that vitamin E (taken in a dose of at least 50 mg / day) slightly, because by 22%, increases the risk of stroke hemorrhagic (brain haemorrhage). Their research shows that it happened to one in 1,250 people taking this vitamin.
Interestingly, vitamin E also reduces the risk of ischemic stroke (cerebral infarction) by 10%. – it happened in one in 467 people surveyed who took this nutrient. Although the study did not show that vitamin E is a significant risk factor for stroke, the differences between the two types were considered significant.
7. Vitamin E – where is the most of it?
The top ten sources of vitamin E include sunflower oil, wheat germ oil, almonds, hazelnuts, and grain germs and sprouts.
It should be noted that vegetable oils and cold-pressed olive oils contain much more vitamin E than those produced industrially. During the latter type of production, up to 75 percent of it is destroyed. vitamins.
8. Vitamin E is the “fertility vitamin”
Vitamin E is also known as the “fertility vitamin” as it is essential for the proper functioning of the reproductive organs. Its shortage, among others reduces the secretion of the gonadotropic hormone, which contributes to the degeneration of sperm in men.
9. Vitamin E in pregnancy
Vitamin E is essential during pregnancy. It has a special impact on the child’s eyesight, so it should not be forgotten, especially in the third trimester of pregnancy, i.e. when the eyesight is shaped. In addition, vitamin E together with folic acid prevents damage to the nervous system and the development of birth defects in the fetus.
Vitamin E also affects the correct birth weight of a child. Scientists have also shown that by administering vitamin E several weeks before termination of pregnancy, the mortality rate of children during childbirth decreases.
Therefore, deficiency of this vitamin in pregnant women may lead to abnormal fetal development, premature rupture of membranes and premature delivery, miscarriage or fetal death. Its deficiency may also be associated with the occurrence of pregnancy poisoning, which threatens the life of the child and mother.
Women expecting a baby should take an average of 15-19 mg of this vitamin per day.
10. Vitamin E – use in cosmetics
Vitamin E is called the “vitamin of youth” for a reason. As a strong antioxidant, it neutralizes free radicals responsible for irritation and the formation of wrinkles, and thus – delays the skin aging process.
Moreover, it has nourishing, regenerating and moisturizing and lubricating properties. Therefore, face and body creams with vitamin E are intended for all skin types, but above all for the sensitive, prone to irritation and wrinkles.
In addition, it helps protect the skin against UV radiation. Creams with vitamin E can also be used as an auxiliary in the treatment of psoriasis, skin irritations, eczema and acne-prone skin.