Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin essential for the functioning of the body due to its antioxidant action and anti-inflammatory properties, which help to improve the immune system, skin and hair, as well as prevent diseases such as atherosclerosis and Alzheimer’s.
This vitamin can be obtained through food, being found mainly in vegetable oils and nuts. It can also be obtained in the form of nutritional supplements at pharmacies, health food stores or online stores, and must be consumed under the guidance of the doctor or nutritionist.
What is it for
The main function of vitamin E in the body is to prevent damage caused by free radicals in cells, thus possessing several health benefits:
1. Improve the immune system
Adequate intake of vitamin E, especially in older people, helps to improve the immune system, as free radicals can impair the body’s normal response to pathogens.
In addition, some studies indicate that supplementation with vitamin E increases resistance to infections, including the Influenza virus.
2. Improve skin and hair health
Vitamin E promotes skin integrity and maintains cell walls, increasing firmness. Therefore, it could prevent premature aging and the appearance of wrinkles, improve healing and some skin conditions, such as atopic dermatitis, for example. In addition, vitamin D can prevent damage from UV rays on the skin.
In addition, this vitamin also promotes hair health, as it takes care of the integrity of the fibers and apparently improves the blood circulation of the scalp, making it grow healthy and shiny. Some studies indicate that people with alopecia have low levels of vitamin E and, therefore, the consumption of this vitamin could have benefits in these cases.
3. Prevent neurological diseases
Vitamin E deficiency is related to changes in the central nervous system. Therefore, some studies seek to include supplements of this vitamin to prevent and / or treat diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and Down’s Syndrome.
In the case of Alzheimer’s, it was found that vitamin E can influence the neurodegenerative processes that are associated with this condition. However, further studies are needed to verify this relationship, since the results found are contradictory.
4. Prevent cardiovascular disease
The consumption of vitamin E can decrease the morbidity and mortality caused by cardiovascular diseases. According to some investigations, the intake of antioxidants such as vitamin E can decrease oxidative stress and inflammation in the body, these factors being associated with the appearance of this type of disease.
In addition, vitamin E helps to control and maintain blood cholesterol levels, in addition to decreasing platelet aggregation and, in turn, the risk of thrombosis.
5. Fight infertility
Consuming vitamin E can help improve sperm quality by increasing sperm motility in men. In the case of women, the studies are not conclusive.
6. Improve endurance and muscle strength
Supplementation with the antioxidant vitamin E can provide beneficial effects against exercise-induced oxidative tissue damage, which could increase endurance and muscle strength, as well as accelerate your recovery after training.
7. Help in the treatment of fatty liver
Due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory action, supplementation of high doses of vitamin E in people with non-alcoholic fatty liver apparently helps to decrease the levels of liver enzymes circulating in the blood and some other factors indicative of liver damage, such as decreased accumulation of fat in the liver and fibrosis.
Vitamin E supplement
Vitamin E supplementation may be indicated by your doctor or nutritionist in some situations, such as:
- People with malabsorption of fats, as can happen after bariatric surgery, irritable bowel syndrome or chronic pancreatitis, for example;
- Genetic changes in alpha-TTP enzymes or apolipoprotein B, which cause a severe deficiency of this vitamin;
- In premature newborns, since vitamin E deficiency can cause retinopathy of the premature and hemolytic anemia;
- In the case of high cholesterol to improve blood circulation;
- Couples with fertility problems;
- In older people to fight free radicals and improve the immune system.
In addition, the supplement can also be indicated by dermatologists to maintain the health of skin and hair.
Foods rich in vitamin E are mainly vegetable oils, such as sunflower and olive oil, nuts such as hazelnuts, almonds, peanuts and pistachios, and some fruits such as avocado and papaya, for example. See a more complete list of foods rich in vitamin E .
How much should it be consumed?
To maintain adequate levels of vitamin E in the body, consumption of 15 mg per day is recommended. In the case of consumption of vitamin E as a daily supplement as part of a multivitamin, the recommendation is a maximum of 150 mg.
In the case of the elderly, between 50 and 200 mg of vitamin E per day as a supplement to improve immunity can be recommended. However, it is recommended that its use is guided by the doctor or nutritionist, who can better adapt the doses according to the needs of each person.
In the case of premature newborns, the pediatrician may suggest administration between 10 to 15 mg of vitamin E daily.
Vitamin E deficiency
The lack of vitamin E is rare and occurs mainly in people with malabsorption of fats, genetic alterations and premature newborns.
The symptoms that can arise in case of deficiency are mainly at the level of the central nervous system, which can cause decreased reflexes, difficulty walking, double vision, muscle weakness and headaches. Learn to identify the symptoms of vitamin E deficiency .