Essential Vitamin E

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HeConnection-Vitamins-Minerals-Supplements-Essential Vitamin EThe Discovery of Vitamin E

Essential Vitamin E – There are eight different compounds that are classified as vitamin E, and alpha-tocopherol, is used most actively and efficiently by humans. In 1922 two scientists named Evans and Bishop discovered that there was a compound found in vegetable oils that was essential for rats if they were to reproduce. It was called “factor X,” or “anti-sterility factor” at first. The fat soluble vitamin D had just been named, so they soon decided to give this new substance, also fat soluble, the name vitamin E.

It was in 1936 that scientists first isolated vitamin E from wheat germ, corn and cottonseed oils.  The name alpha-tocopherol comes from the Greek tokos, which means childbirth, and pherein meaning to bring forth. The ol at the end shows that the compound contains an alcohol in its structure. Even though scientists knew for decades that vitamin E was an essential nutrient for animals in the lab, it wasn’t until 1968 that it was named as an essential vitamin for humans.

How Vitamin E Works

Vitamin E works primarily as an antioxidant, intercepting free radicals that are formed through normal metabolism or through exposure to toxins like cigarette smoke. It protects certain fats such as those in low density lipoproteins from being oxidized, and helps to maintain healthy cell membranes. Vitamin E helps cells in the immune system to function properly and can protect against blood clots by preventing platelets from clumping together.

Most of the symptoms of vitamin E deficiency are neurological, and these include peripheral neuropathy, muscle weakness, damage to the retina and impaired balance and coordination. Infants are especially susceptible to vitamin E deficiency and will begin to show symptoms right away, whereas adults might go for 10 or 20 years before seeing the symptoms of low levels of this vitamin.

Observational studies (where people are simply observed but there is no intervention) have shown vitamin E might help prevent cataracts, but this has not been born out yet in clinical experiments. This vitamin is being studied for the prevention or treatment of heart disease, different types of cancer, diabetes and dementia.

Food Sources of Vitamin E

Nuts are a very good source of vitamin E, as are nut butters. Vegetable oils, especially sunflower, safflower and canola oils are high in this vitamin. Sunflower seeds, the source of the oil, are a good way to get this nutrient. Olive oil has lesser amounts. Avocados are an excellent source. Surprisingly, leafy greens such as lettuce, spinach and broccoli are a good source of vitamin E, even though you wouldn’t think of them as containing a fat soluble vitamin.

The recommended daily amount of vitamin E for an adult male is 15 mg. As with many of the vitamins, this is just enough to prevent a person from symptoms of deficiency, but not necessarily the amount that you need for optimal health.

There are some consequences to taking too much of this vitamin, including that it may interfere with blood clotting and cause hemorrhage.  The Food and Nutrition Board set an upper level tolerance because of this, and they recommend that an adult not take more than 1000 mg per day, with lesser amounts for other age groups. People who are taking blood thinners might not even be able to tolerate that much.

Are you getting enough vitamin E in your diet?

Health-e-Solutions comment

If you are living the Health-e-Solutions lifestyle with an emphasis on nuts, seeds, leafy green vegetables, olive oil and more, then you can feel pretty safe that your diet includes plenty of vitamin E!

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Resource: Micronutrient Research for Optimum Health