Vitamin E (Tocopherol)
Vitamin E is a fat soluble vitamin that exists in eight different forms. The names of all types of vitamin E begin with either a d or dl, which refers to whether the vitamin E is natural or synthetic respectively. The natural form is more active.
Vitamin E is fat soluble, the body is able to store any vitamin E that it doesn’t immediately need in the liver and fatty tissue, and draw on it when it is needed. Much research has been done on vitamin E and its antioxidant properties, which are believed to prevent cell damage caused by harmful substances called free radicals. A good source is wheat germ oil, nuts, seeds, vegetable oils whole grains, egg yolks and leafy green vegetables.
How it helps
In addition to protecting the body from the damage caused by free radicals, vitamin E plays an important role in the formation of red blood cells and helps the body use vitamin K. Vitamin E has also been shown to play a role in keeping the immune system healthy and in repairing DNA, the body’s genetic material. Vitamin E is believed to help control bad cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease. Two studies published in the New England Medical Journal showed that both men and women who supplemented with Vitamin E each day for at least 2 years had a 37 – 41% drop in the risk of heart disease. Even more impressive was the 77% drop in non fatal heart attacks reported in a double blind trial.
What happens if you don’t get enough?
Vitamin E deficiency is rare, but it may occur in people who have a health condition that makes it difficult to absorb dietary fat. Symptoms of vitamin E deficiency include:
■ nerve problems, especially in the hands and feet
■ lack of coordination
■ problems with balance
■ impaired vision
■ muscle weakness
How much (dosage) should you take?
■ 14 years and older: 15 mg per day
■ 9 to 13 years: 11 mg per day
■ 14 years and older: 15 mg per day ■ 9 to 13 years: 11 mg per day
■ while breastfeeding: 19 mg per day
What happens if you take too much?
Vitamin E can interfere with the blood clotting process and increase the risk of bleeding, so people who are taking blood thinning medication should check with their doctors before taking vitamin E supplements.
When taken as a supplement in large doses, side effects may include:
￼■ intestinal cramps and diarrhea
■ breast soreness
■ double vision
■ muscle weakness
Can drugs interact with it?
Some drugs may reduce the body’s ability to absorb vitamin E, including:
■ cholestyramine and colestipol
Vitamin E may increase the actions of drugs that thin the blood, including:
■ acetylsalicylic acid (ASA)