Vitamin E – what does it really affect and why do we hear so much about it? Otherwise known as the “elixir of youth”, it is a group of fat-soluble organic chemical compounds belonging to tocopherols and tocotrienols. Each of these forms shows slightly different biological activity. The form of α-tocopherol is considered the strongest of these. Due to the Greek meaning of the word tocopherols “contribute to birth”, vitamin E is also considered the “fertility” vitamin.

Vitamin E – what does it affect and what are its properties?

Our body is not able to synthesize vitamin E on its own, therefore it must be supplied with the diet or in the form of dietary supplements. Excess vitamin E is excreted in the bile and urine. As vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin, its absorption is largely dependent on the presence of fat in the food. The absorption of vitamin E from food into the body is also directly dependent on the adequate amount of bile. With deficiency or problems with the gallbladder (or lack thereof), cholestasis, celiac disease, intestinal diseases and other diseases of the digestive system, most vitamin E may not pass through the intestinal wall.

Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant. None of the antioxidants known so far has the same properties as vitamin E. It is the so-called the second line of defense against the effects of reactive oxygen species. Free radicals contribute to the destruction of cells and the development of cardiovascular disease. Vitamin E has the ability to build into the lipid structures of the skin, which also slows down the aging process.

Numerous studies prove that vitamin E inhibits the development of atherosclerosis, playing a large role in the prevention of the development of cardiovascular diseases. It strengthens and tones blood vessels and prevents clumping of platelets and the formation of blood clots. Vitamin E reduces the premature breakdown (haemolysis) of red blood cells (erythrocytes), which are responsible for carrying oxygen to all cells of the body.

It has been shown that tocopherols and tocotrienols can contribute to the reduction of the development of neoplastic diseases, including prostate, colon, breast and lung cancer, all thanks to their antioxidant properties. Scientists in their research proved that in women who used a diet rich in vitamin E, the incidence of ovarian cancer decreased.

Referring to the Greek name of tocopherols, composed of the words “tocos”, meaning to give birth, and “pherein” – to bear, it is translated as “the one who gives the strength to give birth”. Vitamin E is essential for the proper functioning of the reproductive organs in women. Research has shown that low vitamin E levels can lead to ovulation disorders in women. In men, it contributes to the proper production of sperm. That is why it is called the fertility vitamin and is often used in the treatment of infertility.

Vitamin E penetrates the epidermis well, improving skin elasticity. It has a moisturizing, smoothing and firming effect on the skin. It accelerates skin healing, supports the treatment of discoloration and has anti-aging properties. Along with vitamin A, it is used to treat acne vulgaris and eczema. It is found in lotions, creams, milks, cosmetics intended for the care of hair and nails.

skin collagen

ATTENTION! When choosing products with vitamin E, pay attention to its concentration. With small amounts of it, it will only play a protective role for the remaining active ingredients of cosmetic preparations. It is best to choose preparations with a vitamin E content of 1.5% -3%. There are products that contain even 5%.

Vitamin E – what else does it affect?

In addition to the above-mentioned properties, vitamin E also has other functions in the body:

– thanks to its immunomodulating properties, it strengthens immunity;

– improves the mental state

– reduces the incidence of infectious diseases

– has an anti-inflammatory effect

– contributes to the maintenance of high muscle efficiency

The need for vitamin E

The need for vitamin E depends on individual characteristics: age, sex and physiological condition, pathological changes in the gastrointestinal tract and liver, as well as the type of food consumed – the supply of other antioxidant vitamins, the type of fat consumed.

Polish standards for vitamin E, set at the level of sufficient consumption (AI) [mg of α-tocopherol equivalent / person / day].

Babies

0-6 months – 4 mg

7 – 11 months – 5 mg

Children

1-6 years – 6 mg

7-9 years – 7 mg

The boys

10-18 years – 10 mg

Girls

10-18 years old – 8 mg

Men ≥19 years old – 10 mg

Women ≥19 years old – 8 mg

Pregnant women – 10 mg

Breastfeeding women – 11 mg

Vitamin E – sources in the diet

Vitamin E is synthesized only by plants and is also found in animal products. It is found in most foods in varying amounts. Its main source are vegetable fats, including wheat germ oils, sunflower oil, and safflower oil, with a high content of vitamin E. It can also be found in cereal products, nuts, vegetables, meat and dairy products.

The effects of vitamin E deficiency

Due to the ubiquitous presence of vitamin E in food and with the intake that does not differ from the recommended intake, vitamin E deficiency is extremely rare in healthy people. They are found in preterm infants, especially those with low birth weight – less than 1500 g, people suffering from disorders of digestive and absorption processes. Deficiency can manifest as early skin aging, decreased vision, and fertility problems.

The effects of excess vitamin E.

Studies have not shown any negative effects of consuming vitamin E in food. Adverse effects of vitamin E may occur in the event of improper use of dietary supplements (at least a year in the amount of about 270 mg of α-tocopherol equivalent / person / day).

Available forms of vitamin E in preparations

Vitamin E is available as oral drops and capsules. Oral drops are usually used in the prevention of vitamin E deficiency, which may be caused by a long-term, inadequate diet poor in products that are a natural source of vitamin E, as well as in the case of malabsorption syndrome.

Vitamin E capsules can be found in a variety of dosages. They are also used in the event of a deficiency caused by a long-term, inadequate diet. In addition, supplementation can also be considered as an aid in atherosclerosis and diseases caused by an excess of free radicals in the body.