Vitamin E is an antioxidant that helps to neutralize free radicals and slow the oxidative process.   Free radicals can damage cells and genetic material and cause skin aging, cancer and chronic inflammation. 

What is Vitamin E?

Unlike other micronutrients like B Vitamins or Vitamin D that are not easily accessible in foods,  Vitamin E is common in most American diets.  

Good food sources for Vitamin E include:

  • Wheat germ
  • Eggs
  • Nuts & seeds
  • Dark leafy greens
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Avocados & asparagus

Vitamin E is an antioxidant complex formed by two components: tocopherols and tocotrienols.  Both forms of Vitamin E have many health benefits.  Read more about tocopherols and tocotrienols below.  

Tocopherols & Tocotrienols

‘Mixed tocopherols’ are even used as a preservative in food because they slow the oxidative process and extends shelf life.  Vitamin E deficiency can only be addressed with tocopherols.  Deficiencies are rare and usually only occur in people with other health conditions that impair the absorption of fat  ??  

Research has shown that tocotrienols especially are highly effective chemicals that form Vitamin E.  Although Vitamin E is common in most American diets, tocotrienols are not so supplementation may be necessary if you don’t receive enough from diet alone.  

Good sources for tocotrienols include:

  • Rice bran
  • Oats
  • Barley
  • Rye
  • Crude palm oil

Tocotrienols are best known for their benefits on skin, eyes, and digestive health.  Tocotrienols are often used for cosmetics.  It can help to reverse or slow skin damage that causes discoloring and wrinkles. 

‘E’ is for Eyes

Antioxidants, especially tocotrienols, are used to promote eye health.  In a National Eye Institute study, tocotreinols were found to have helped the formation of new blood vessels, which improves overall eye health.  This form of Vitamin E is shown to improve conditions such as macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, and even cataracts 

Stress & Digestive Health

Research has found tocotreinol to be effective at fighting the effects of stress on the digestive system.  Chronic stress has a major impact on almost every aspect of the body.  The digestive system sometimes slows down due to stress. Consider supporting the body’s healing and recovering processes during stressful stages in life.  A study done on rats, tocotreinol was found to stop hormonal and acidity changes in the digestive tract. 

Other symptoms that Vitamin E deficiency can contribute to are:

  • Skin & hair problems: Free radicals damage cell and can accelerate the aging process. As an antioxidant, Vitamin E helps to retain moisture and protect your skin’s elasticity. This is why you often see Vitamin E added to cosmetic and anti-aging products.  Tocopherols are often used to extend cosmetic’s shelf life while tocotreinols are thought to be especially beneficial as a topical skin treatment. 
  • Anemia **
  • PMS:  Among other treatments, a study showed that Vitamin E supplementation can improve symptoms of PMS such as mood swings, cravings, fatigue, irritability, depression and tender breasts.  
  • Eczema & psoriasis ?
  • Fertility problems:  In females, Vitamin E protects reproductive cells and may improve endometrial response (the ability of the fertilized egg to implant into uterine wall).  For males, Vitamin E protects the sensitive sperm cell membranes and enhances sperm’s ability to penetrate an egg.

Although Vitamin E deficiency is uncommon, I advise my clients to check their micronutrient levels once a year.  The body is complex and changes due to environmental factors, stress, and illness.  As a Naturopathic doctor, my primary focus is to address the underlying causes to chronic illness.   

Before supplementing your diet, check with your doctor.  Over-supplementing or not supplementing correctly might not address the problem and can become expensive with no added benefits.  

Dr. Melanie MacLaren is a naturopathic doctor and registered yoga teacher who is passionate about natural health and the individualized needs of each of her clients.

Call 317-818-1800 to learn more about Dr. Melanie or request an appointment.