This fat-soluble vitamin boasts powerful antioxidant properties, crucial for cell membrane health. Vitamin E protects lung cells from the prolonged exposure to oxygen molecules which are highly reactive and can cause serious cell damage. In addition to this, it prevents the damage caused by oxygen to fatty acids and vitamin A. Moreover, as a result of its potent antioxidant action, vitamin E sustains the activity of the cardiovascular system and helps maintain a healthy nervous system. Moreover, it contributes to maintaining healthy skin and hair.
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin and can be found in generous amounts in nuts, seeds and vegetable oils. It is, among other things, a wonderful food additive used to prolong shelf life. Due to its powerful antioxidant properties, vitamin E helps prevent oxidation (due to contact with reactive oxygen molecules) and rancidity. The same antioxidant properties apply to us: the cells in our body come in contact with oxygen, which engenders an oxidation process. Oxidation leads to the degradation of cells and, consequently, of tissue integrity.
Antioxidants such as vitamin E, vitamin C or manganese counteract oxidation damage and help maintain healthy cells, tissues and organs. An adequate intake of vitamin E is thus essential for a good overall health because it prevents damage to the main structures that make up our body: cells. The vitamin further supports cardiovascular health. By maintaining adequate fluid levels, prevents blood platelets (thrombocytes) from aggregating and thus prevents blood clots. In addition to this, a high intake lowers the risks of both stroke and heart attack. Even more, some studied performed on mice showed that when applied to the skin, vitamin E can prevent skin cancer due to overexposure to ultraviolet rays.
Being an antioxidant, it reduces damage from sun radiation and thus contributes to healthier skin. Moreover, vitamin E has an intensive moisturizing effect and helps combat dry skin as well as improves the appearance of oily skin by helping regulate sebum production. As a fat-soluble vitamin, it is only found in animal food source and plant food sources which also provide important amounts of fats such as oily grain, fruits like avocado or vegetables. Together with fats, it exerts antioxidant and anti-aging effects directed primarily at the skin.
Moreover, this fat-soluble vitamin keeps the nervous system healthy by protecting the myelin sheath, a layer surrounding the axon (tail) of a neuron (nerve cell). This improves nervous connections and facilitates the transmission of electrical impulses between neurons. More recent research suggests that constantly supplying the body with vitamin E can prevent cognitive degeneration associated with old age and may even help slow down the evolution of Alzheimer’s disease.
Since its discovery in 1922, vitamin E has underwent intense study. Vitamin E is actually a generic name for a family of 10 compounds known as tocopherols and tocotrienols. Supplements available in pharmacies are actually a synthetic form of the vitamin: delta-tocopherol. As expected, our body thrives on natural vitamin E forms, such as those we get from sunflower seeds and oil as well as other dietary sources (see Vitamin E sources). Moreover, our liver recycles the natural form of vitamin E, while eliminating synthetic forms.
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has published some very interesting research results, stating that all forms of vitamin E present in our diet should be given proper attention, gamma-tocopherol included. For this reason, it is recommended that we also include nuts in our diet. Nuts appear to be an excellent source of gamma-tocopherol and regular consumption can be highly beneficial for cardiovascular health.
Walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, pecans are all great sources of vitamin E. Good amounts of the nutrient can also be found in olive oil, avocado, pumpkin, mango, beet greens and sesame oil. Supplementation is rarely required because of the diversity of vitamin E-rich foods available.
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