Here’s a rundown on some of its interesting benefits:
A great antioxidant: The most important discovery with respect to vitamin E is its antioxidant property. Antioxidants are very much the superstars when it comes to protecting us from illnesses. These compounds fight and destroy the “free radicals” that can damage our cells and lead to chronic degenerative illness like Alzheimer’s, cancers, heart illness and diabetes. Free radicals are released as part of the routine digestive processes, pollution, smoking, junk food consumption and so on. The best-known benefit of vitamin E is that it can quench these free radicals before they can do any harm.
And this same quality of this vitamin may also help slow down the ageing process, as per some studies.
Liver protection: A recent study by European Association for the Study of the Liver has found that about 38 % of those treated with vitamin E supplements were cured of a nasty ailment called “NASH” or non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, a condition in which liver cells become inflamed and damaged because of excessive fat accumulation. Central obesity and sedentary lifestyle have seen a sharp rise in NASH which is not related to alcohol consumption in any way but yet is as dangerous. The study found that vitamin E was as helpful as other medications in treating NASH.
Eye health: One of the leading causes of blindness, especially in the elderly, is a condition called macular degeneration, an illness that affects the vision. Clinical trials conducted in the US found that Vitamin E, along with some other crucial vitamins reduced the risk of this degenerative illness.
Muscle building: Fitness enthusiast need to sit up and take note of an interesting recent research which points out that without Vitamin E, the muscle cells do not repair themselves after the damage that occurs during heavy weight lifting. Although more research is still needed in this area, having adequate stores of this vitamin seems to help optimise muscle mass.
Brain health: Vitamin E may help prevent the age-related cognitive decline as per recent studies. Research has also thrown some light on a possible link between adequate vitamin E intake and reduced risk of brain tumours.
Heart health: There are different types of fats and polyunsaturated fatty acids Viz. (PUFA), monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) and saturated fats have all made headlines especially in relation to health in one form or the other. Among these, PUFA are the types of fats which have a type of linkage in their composition that makes them susceptible to being disturbed by free radicals. Excessive intake of a type of PUFA, called omega 6 fatty acid, is known to increase the risk of developing heart disease in the long term. Vitamin E, due to its antioxidant properties can negate the harmful effects of omega 6 fats, thereby preventing hardening of arteries and controlling inflammation that usually cause blocks in the arteries of the heart.
Vitamin E intake can also correct and prevent irregular heart rhythms that could be one of the major symptoms of vitamin E deficiency that is set off either due to prolonged poor intake or in certain chronic illnesses that result in poor absorption of this nutrient.
Cancer: The omega 6 fatty acids are also implicated in tumour growth mainly due to their pro-inflammatory effects, which means that they promote inflammation in our body cells. Vitamin E counteracts this inflammatory effect of omega 6 fats and helps reduce the risk of cancer.
Sources of Vitamin E
As with everything else, natural known sources of nutrients are always safer and are recommended over concentrated supplements that can harm in the long run. Both the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the American Heart Association recommend getting this nutrient from a well-balanced diet comprising of a good combination of foods from all food groups such as vegetables, nuts, oil, fruits and whole grain cereals.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommend a daily intake of 15 mg of vitamin E per day for adults from natural foods. When we talk about foods rich in vitamin E, wheat germ and wheat germ oil grab the headlines. One tablespoon of any one of these sources can meet the daily requirements. Wheat germ is the healthy part of the wheat grain that sprouts and grows into the plant. Most nutrients are found in this part along with Vitamin E. However, the germ is removed while processing wheat to make flour or other processed products. Fresh milled whole wheat flour is a good source of vitamin E. Wheat germ is also now available and adding a tablespoon in the daily breakfast may be a great way of getting the required dose of vitamin E.
Since Vitamin E is a fat-soluble nutrient, some amount of fat is required along with vitamin E rich foods to help your digestive system absorb the vitamin effectively. Add a dash of healthy oils such as olive, canola, rice bran, groundnut or mustard oil while making a delicious vitamin E rich dish!
Spinach: One of the most easily available greens, spinach offers about 20 % of the daily requirements of vitamin E in one cup of cooked spinach.
Almonds: These tasty nuts turn out to be a good source of vitamin E since it combines both healthy fats and vitamin E in a great combination. Vitamin E, being fat soluble, is best absorbed in presence of fats as already discussed. About 10 numbers of almonds provide close to 50 % of the daily needs of the nutrient.
Fish: Some fish, especially salmon and swordfish are a fair source of Vitamin E, giving about 8 to 10 % of the daily dose in 100 grams portion of fish.