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Vitamin E: A Top-Class Antioxidant

For years, vitamin E has been touted as a top-tier anti-aging vitamin. It makes you beautiful and fertile and also offers – so it was said – excellent protection against heart attacks, strokes, cancer, and Alzheimer’s. After people dutifully took high-dose vitamin E pills for years, it’s now being proclaimed that vitamin E is ineffective at best, but can also increase the risk of stroke and even premature death. What is it now?

Vitamin E and its effects

Vitamin E is not just a single substance but refers to a whole family of powerful antioxidants. These include e.g. B. the tocopherols and the tocotrienols.

Alpha-tocopherol has been particularly well-researched. Although it was always thought that this was also the most effective form of vitamin E, it has now been found that the tocotrienols – with regard to the antioxidant effect – can sometimes be up to 40 times more effective.

So far, the vitamin E family has 16 members, which can have different effects as antioxidants. An antioxidant has the task of eliminating free radicals and in this way protecting the body. Free radicals are molecules that are missing an electron in their chemical structure. In search of this electron, they particularly like to attack cell walls. The cell easily withstands a few such attacks.

However, if it is constantly attacked by free radicals, significant membrane damage occurs. A cell with a damaged cell membrane can no longer perform its functions properly. The more cells only work incorrectly or even die, the more likely it is that there will be noticeable signs of aging (wrinkles, eye problems, etc.) and chronic diseases.

Normally, a cell is pumped about 10,000 times a day by free radicals because of an electron. Whether the cell has to move out with the electron or not depends on its protection. Cell protection is the task of the antioxidants, whereby in addition to the body’s own antioxidants (glutathione, SOD, etc.), vitamin E is at the forefront together with vitamin C and other helpers and protects the cell membranes.

Vitamin E for young and healthy skin

A healthy vitamin E level thus helps to tighten the skin and gives it a fresh, younger appearance. This works twice as well because vitamin E also increases the collagen content in the skin.

Wounds heal faster because new cells can form quickly without being attacked by free radicals. Of course, vitamin E also protects the skin from the sun – both internally and externally. The latter when applied to the skin in the form of natural oils and fats rich in vitamin E (e.g. olive oil or coconut oil).

Vitamin E makes scars disappear

Vitamin E can also be used to reduce or even completely eliminate scars on the skin. It is best applied to clean skin shortly after the scar has formed in the form of oils rich in vitamin E. Do this every night to allow the oil to sit overnight.

Vitamin E for shiny and healthy hair

Vitamin E also takes care of the health and vitality of the hair. Hair growth is accelerated and the hair becomes stronger – both through the regular consumption of foods rich in vitamin E and through regular packs with oils rich in vitamin E.

Vitamin E regulates cholesterol levels

Vitamin E also protects blood vessel cells and keeps artery walls clean and elastic. Vitamin E prevents unfavorable cholesterol (LDL) from oxidizing. Consequently, it cannot be deposited on the arterial walls. Vitamin E also has an enormous influence on blood clotting. If sufficient vitamin E is available, blood clots (thrombosis) and thus strokes and heart attacks can be prevented.

Vitamin E in cancer and diabetes

Vitamin E can also help prevent or fight cancer. It protects the cells’ DNA (our genome) from damage that can cause the cell to degenerate and become cancerous. If a tumor has already formed, vitamin E ensures a reduced growth rate of the tumor.

At the same time, it supports the immune system in fighting cancer. Vitamin E is also helpful in diabetes. Here it increases the insulin sensitivity of the cells so that they recognize the insulin again and consequently the blood sugar level drops in a healthy way.

Vitamin E against Alzheimer’s

Vitamin E is crucial for proper brain function. It guards the myelin sheath, a protective sheath that surrounds nerve cells in the brain. This leads to a slower aging process and is helpful in preventing Alzheimer’s.

Vitamin E against infertility

Vitamin E is often considered THE fertility vitamin par excellence. Men with poor sperm quality and therefore classified as infertile should particularly benefit from vitamin E, but women who have not yet fulfilled their desire to have children can also support their fertility with the help of a diet rich in vital substances.

vitamin E supplements

Vitamin E works in the body along with many other vitamins and enzymes. Vitamin E therefore only makes sense as a dietary supplement if you also take care of all the other vital substances.

Vitamin E, for example, needs vitamin C in order to have an optimal effect. Vitamin C reactivates vitamin E after it has eliminated a free radical, allowing it to immediately resume its antioxidant activity. In the same way, the body’s own antioxidant glutathione helps with the work of vitamin E. And even the coenzyme Q10 supports vitamin E in its diverse activities – to name just three of vitamin E’s many employees.

Vitamin E preparations that contain the entire vitamin E complex are ideal, which means: all 8 forms, namely 4 tocopherol forms,

and 4 tocotrienol forms. The amount of each individual tocopherol or tocotrienol should be specified (in IU and mg). The daily dose for adults is usually 200 to 400 IU for dietary supplements.

If you value vegan dietary supplements, look out for vegan soft gel capsules, as gelatine capsules are often used for fat-soluble vitamins.

Is Vitamin E not working?

If some clinical studies have shown that vitamin E does not work as hoped at all, but can even have harmful effects, this was not due to the vitamin E itself, but rather to the dosage, the type of vitamin E, and possibly .because one or the other accompanying substance was not available in the required quantity.

The result was headlines like: “Antioxidants disappoint when it comes to vascular protection” (Lancet, 361, 2003, 2017) or “Increased risk of death from high-dose vitamin E” or “Vitamin E does not protect against cardiovascular diseases” – of course without the closer connections in the articles concerned to explain.

How Much Vitamin E Do You Need?

The vitamin E requirement is officially given with the following values:

  • Infants 0 – 4 months: 3 mg
  • Infants 4 – 12 months: 4 mg
  • Children 1 – 4 years: 5 – 6 mg
  • Children 4 – 7 years: 8 mg
  • Children 7 – 10 years: 9 – 10 mg
  • Adolescents 10 – 13 years: 11 – 13 mg
  • Adolescents 13 – 15 years: 12 – 14 mg
  • Adolescents and adults 15 – 25 years: 12 – 15 mg
  • Adults 25 – 65 years: 12 – 14 mg
  • Adults over 65 years: 12 – 13 mg
  • Pregnant women: 13 mg
  • Breastfeeding: 17 mg

If different values are specified, e.g. B. 11 – 13 mg, then the lower number always applies to girls/women and the higher number to boys/men.

How do you convert the different units of vitamin E?

1 mg of vitamin E corresponds to 1.5 IU of vitamin E.

1 IU of vitamin E corresponds to 0.67 mg of vitamin E.

Foods with vitamin E

Good sources of vitamin E, i.e. foods with a lot of vitamin E, are wheat germ oil, sunflower oil, almonds, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, peanuts, and moringa, with wheat germ oil and sunflower seeds containing so much vitamin E that as an adult you can already meet your daily requirement of around 13 mg alone could cover with 1 tbsp wheat germ oil or 4 tbsp sunflower oil (1 tbsp = 15 g).

For comparison: 1 tablespoon of olive oil provides only 1.3 mg of vitamin E, but is preferable to sunflower oil and wheat germ oil in the kitchen due to the better fatty acid ratio (omega-3/omega-6). Of course, you can still use some of these two oils from time to time, but not only and not daily in large quantities.

The requirement for vitamin E could be covered as follows, for example, with the amount of vitamin E contained in each case being in brackets. The total is 17.3 mg of vitamin E. (The amount consumed can of course be adjusted to suit your personal energy needs):

  • 20 g hazelnuts or almonds (5 mg)
  • 10 g sunflower seeds (2 mg)
  • 10 g moringa powder (4 mg)
  • 100 g wholemeal bread (1 mg)
  • 80 g raw quinoa (1.1 mg)
  • 30 g rolled oats (0.4 mg)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil (1.3 mg)
  • 500 g fruit and vegetables (average 0.5 mg vitamin E per 100 g, makes 2.5 mg)

Vitamin E: All natural from Moringa

An almost fat-free source of vitamin E is Moringa, the so-called horseradish tree, which is said to have miraculous effects. Miraculous or not, its vitamin E content is definitely interesting.

A daily dose of 10 g moringa leaf powder already covers 30 percent of the daily requirement of vitamin E. Since moringa naturally not only supplies vitamin E, but also a number of other vital substances in relevant quantities, such as e.g. B. calcium, magnesium, and the B vitamins, Moringa is a good choice if you want to supplement the diet in a holistic way.

Higher doses of vitamin E for therapy

In some cases, however, vitamin E is used in therapeutic doses that cannot be obtained from diet alone – such as B. in macular degeneration.

But then not only a vitamin E preparation is taken, but many other vital substances. The goal is to consume as many of the necessary accompanying substances as possible so that vitamin E can have a similar effect as if it were taken in naturally with food.

In the case of macular degeneration, vitamin E is therefore accompanied by vitamin C, zinc, copper, carotenoids, omega-3 fatty acids, and other selected antioxidants.

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Written by Bella Adams

I'm a professionally-trained, executive chef with over ten years in Restaurant Culinary and hospitality management. Experienced in specialized diets, including Vegetarian, Vegan, Raw foods, whole food, plant-based, allergy-friendly, farm-to-table, and more. Outside of the kitchen, I write about lifestyle factors that impact well-being.

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