encyclopedia

Vitamin E

Natural Sources:
Wheat germ oil; Soybean oil; Corn oil; Sunflower oil; Sunflower seeds; other seeds, nuts and oils.

Forms:
Standardized Vitamin E capsules and tablets; Wheat germ oil; whole seeds, seed cakes and oils.

Therapeutic Uses:
– AIDS
– Aging Disorders
– Antinflammatory
– Antioxidant
– Arthritic Pain Relief
– Bone and Joint Conditions
– Cataracts
– Cellular Regeneration
– Cleansing
– Detoxification
– Eyesight Disorders
– HIV Infection
– Immune System
– Leg Vein Health
– Lowering LDL Cholesterol
– Macular Degeneration
– Skin Problems
– Sunburn
– Vascular Disorders

Overview:
Vitamin E is a very powerful fat-soluble antioxidant that occurs abundantly in many different seeds, nuts and oils, including in wheat germ oil, soybean oil, corn oil, sunflower oil and sunflower seeds. The myriad health benefits of vitamin E include: quenching free radicals that would otherwise destroy cells; blocking the oxidation of LDL cholesterol and other bad fats within the vascular system; preventing heart attacks and strokes; preventing arteries from clogging; rejuvenating immunity; preventing and blocking the growth of abnormal cells; protecting the brain from degenerative diseases; relieving pain and inflammation in joints; fighting cataracts and macular degeneration; and relieving intermittent claudication, decreased blood flow to leg arteries. According to Dr. Jeffrey Blumberg, chief of the Antioxidant Research Laboratory at Tufts University, there is strong evidence to suggest that increased intake of vitamin E by the general public could reduce the suffering and costs of the hundreds of thousands of people dying in North America from heart disease. Vitamin E is particularly valuable for the health of the brain, arteries and immune system, as these parts of the body have very fatty cell membranes that are extremely susceptible to damage from bad fats in the diet and free radicals. A preliminary study recently conducted in Finland indicates that long-term, moderate doses of vitamin E – an established antioxidant – may block the progress of prostate tumors.

Chemistry:
Vitamins E is a natural antioxidant and is often used to denote any mixture of biologically active tocopherols. There are four forms of tocopherols found naturally in vitamin E of which alpha-tocopherol is the most active. Wheat germ oil, which makes up 7-12% of wheat seeds, is an excellent source of natural Vitamin E and tocopherols, the richest known source in nature. Organic cold-pressed wheat germ oil has a full spectrum of mixed tocopherols from which Vitamin E is derived (without synthetic compounds). Gamma, Beta, and d-Alpha tocopherols are all present in the oil making the Vitamin E much more bioavailable than synthetic sources that are cheaper but provide fewer health benefits. Gamma tocopherols are free radical scavengers that give wheat germ oil its potent antioxidant qualities. Natural alpha tocopherol is designated with a d before the alpha, while the synthetic form is designated by dl. Some scientists believe that there is little difference between the different types however, many regard natural vitamin E as superior. Note: Vitamin E is fat-soluble and therefore acts as an antioxidant in the lipid part of the cells. When lipids undergo oxidation they form peroxide radicals, which are highly reactive. Vitamin E slows this process by donating one of its hydrogen atoms to the peroxide radical, which then becomes stable and unreactive. As a result, the vitamin E becomes an unreactive free radical.

Suggested Amount:
One tablespoon of wheat germ oil provides 65 IU of Vitamin E, twice the U.S. Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA). Most clinical trials with significant results used dosages of between 400 to 800 IU daily and found this level to be very safe with no toxic effects. Note: Fat-soluble vitamins, including vitamins E, A, D and K, are usually absorbed with the help of foods that contain fat. Fats and oils containing vitamin E and other fat-soluble vitamins are broken down by bile, a liquid released by the liver, and the body then absorbs the breakdown products and vitamins.

Drug Interactions:
None known.

Contraindications:
Vitamin E, like aspirin, has mild blood thinning properties (anticlotting activity) and is therefore contraindicated for people taking anticoagulant drugs or facing surgery without a physician’s supervision. Any persons with any type of bleeding problem should consult a physician prior to taking vitamin E.

Side Effects:
There are no known side effects for Vitamin E taken at normal dosages – even up to as much as 2,000 IU daily according to one stuydExcessive vitamin E (above 3,200 IU daily) can cause headaches, diarrhea and high blood pressure. According to Jean Carper in Stop Aging Now, there is no evidence that vitamin C causes kidney stones.

References:

Block, G. 1991. Vitamin C and cancer prevention: the epidemiological evidence. American J of Clinical Nutrition 1991, 53: 270S-282S.

Carper, J. 1995. Stop Aging Now. HarperCollins Publishers, 10 East 53rd Street, New York, New York 10022-5299. Pp. 49-58.

Duke JA. 1992a. Handbook of Biologically Active Phytochemicals and their Activities. CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL, p. 12.

Enstrom, J.E. 1992. Vitamin C intake and mortality among a sample of the United States population. Epidemiology 1992, 3: 194-202.

Feldman, E.B. 1992. Ascorbic acid supplements and blood pressure – a four week pilot study. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 1992, 669: 342-348.

Additional Information:
None.