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Vitamin E For Everything

You Can Use Vitamin E To

• Slow Aging

• Protect Your Brain

• Prevent Heart Disease

• Lower Cancer Risk

• Enhance Immunity


Breakthrough in Vitamin E Function! Look Inside . . . 


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A news release in April, 2009, announced that Italian scientists have identified a new member of the vitamin E family. It is extracted from the kiwifruit! In fact, this novel nutrient is found mainly in the kiwi skins. On the other hand, straight vitamin E is already known to occur in the pulp. Very rarely found in fruits, the avocado is the only other known fruit source. –

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Breakthrough In Vitamin E Function

Vitamin E may be essential for the maintenance of muscle health. This is what
researchers Amber C. Howard, Anna McNeil, and Paul McNeil proposed at the end of their investigation of vitamin E. The work was an in depth study into the mechanisms involved in membrane repair and the consequent impacts to health.1

Alpha-tocopherol, the most widely used form of the vitamin, was used in this study. Muscle cells (myocytes) show enhanced repair when supplemented with vitamin E. Keep in mind that the heart is a muscle and we can understand why vitamin E has long
been linked with cardiovascular health. However, heart health is just the beginning.

Studies worldwide suggest that vitamin E may help prevent premature aging, slow mental deterioration, bolster immunity, support eye health, reduce the risk of cancer, and prevent or alleviate osteoarthritis. In addition, it can relieve leg cramps, encourage wound healing, deter AIDS, and improve the skin.

Research shows that vitamin E, a fat soluble vitamin, can help in preventing, managing, and even treating the following diseases and conditions: asthma and allergies,
menopause, the effects of pollution
(particularly on the lungs), and diabetes. Further, because vitamin E is also a premier antioxidant, it does double duty in our bodies.

Certainly, vitamin E has earned the name “Vitamin Everything”

Breakthrough In Vitamin E Function


1 Nature Communications, December 2011: Howard, AC, et al. Promotion of plasma membrane repair by vitamin E.

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Vitamin E Not Enough

There are three conditions that are characterized by vitamin E deficiency: fat malabsorption syndromes, hereditary disorders of red blood cells, and plasma membrane disruption injuries.

Fat malabsorption syndromes include celiac disease, cystic fibrosis, and post gastrectomy syndrome. When fat cannot
be properly absorbed (and this includes vitamin E), the lack profoundly affects the central nervous system, causing loss of
muscular coordination (a condition called ataxia) and loss of feeling in the fingers and toes.

Patients receiving large doses of vitamin E may experience a halt in the progression of
their disease.

The second condition, hereditary disorders of the red blood cells, includes sickle cell disease and thalasssemia. The latter is the name given to a group of hereditary blood disorders. Vitamin E supplementation is necessary in some types of this disease.

Mentioned at the top of this article, the work of Howard, et al, involved the promotion of plasma membrane repair with
vitamin E. Severe vitamin E deficiency results in the death of lab animals. These animals die of muscle weakness due to dysfunction of muscle fiber (myopathy).2

This happens because the muscle cells are unable to repair themselves. The death of
these cells ultimately results in muscular dystrophy.

Deficiency can also be a problem for infants. Infants are at risk are

1) premature infants with low stores of the vitamin at birth and

2) those infants with problems absorbing fats.

Because infants can be especially vulnerable to the blood thinning property of vitamin E, supplementation should be used only under a pediatrician’s supervision.

In normal adults, general deficiency symptoms include nerve damage, muscle weakness, poor coordination, involuntary movement of the eyes, and the breaking of red blood cells, leading to hemolytic anemia

Vitamin E Not Enough


2 The myopathies are neuromuscular disorders in which the primary symptom is muscle weakness due to dysfunction of muscle fiber. For more info, go to

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Is Vitamin E The “X-Factor”?

Perhaps. The X-Factor is the possible nutrient key to a long and healthy life. According to an article in the Journal of
the American Medical Association [JAMA] (2008; 299:308-15), the physical abilities of older people with low levels of vitamin E decline more rapidly than those with healthier levels.

In a 3-year study of 698 people over 65, researchers looked at age decline relative to the B vitamins (particularly folic acid), vitamin D, iron, and vitamin E. Only too little vitamin E appeared to hasten physical decline.

Along the same lines, a recent study involves upper respiratory infections. Also published by JAMA, it is the first study to
demonstrate a benefit using vitamin E against colds in 65 year old persons. (200 IU were used.)

Meanwhile, in an ongoing study at the National Institute of Aging, a combination of vitamin E and selenium supplements
is being investigated. Animal and tissue culture studies using this combination suggest that it can protect brain cells from

Researchers are interested in how safe and effective the combination may be in preventing Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and other brain illnesses. Both of these nutrients are potent antioxidants. Although the causes of AD are not known, it is believed that oxidative stress is a factor in brain
cell damage.

Many studies of AD show increased oxidation of brain lipids (fats), proteins, carbohydrates (sugars), and DNA.
This NIA clinical trial (called PREADVISE) involves only male participants over the age of 60. In a parallel study, the same combo was being investigated for its effectiveness in preventing prostate cancer. .The brain protection study is scheduled to conclude in 2012.

Last, we review research reported in the Scientific World Journal in 2009. In this article, several studies support combining vitamin E (as d-alpha-tocoperol) with exercise. Indications are that vitamin E and physical activity work synergistically to slow cognitive decline from as early as middle age.

There is evidence that exercise conserves the brain neurotransmitter acetylcholine, while vitamin E functions in its antioxidant capacity. These conclusions support other studies in which exercise alone can slow cognitive decline. (See Nutrition
News, “Move It! Or Lose It!”)

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The Complete Vitamin E

In 1922, an experiment at Cal Berkeley led to the discovery of vitamin E. Lab animals on a special diet including basic nutrients but no whole foods were unable to reproduce. Adding lettuce and later wheat germ, solved the problem.

Knowing something was missing, the researchers classified it as a vitamin. It was named vitamin E simply because vitamins
A – D were taken.

The vitamin E active substance was named
tocopherol from the Greek tocos (to bring forth) and pherein (childbirth).

Vitamin E is a fat soluble vitamin found mainly in nut and seed oils. While most vitamins function as enzyme cofactors, vitamin E does not.

Deficiencydiseases of the cofactor vitamins, such as scurvy, pellagra, and rickets, develop rapidly. Without the vitamin there is an immediate malfunction in the particular enzyme system it supports.

However, the effects of inadequate vitamin E intake appear to develop over a lifetime, killing slowly with degenerative diseases, such as heart disease or cancer.

Since its discovery, researchers have found that vitamin E occurs in nature as a family of eight related compounds, not just one. These compounds are four tocopherols and four constituents called tocotrienols. Each of these occurs in alpha, beta, gamma, and delta types. All eight have powerful antioxidant properties.

Because the body is predisposed to use alpha-tocopherol, it was formerly believed that this was the only active form for
humans. Most natural vitamin E supplements still contain only alpha tocopherol.3

Some contain “mixed tocopherols” (all the
tocopherols are present, but no tocotrienols). Some brands containing “complete vitamin E” are available.
New research implies that supplying all the tocopherols provides greater health benefits.

For example, gamma tocopherol may be more effective than alpha at fighting a type of free radical called a nitrogen radical. Nitrogen radicals are thought to contribute to the development of arthritis, multiple
sclerosis, and diseases of the brain, such as Alzheimer’s.

Gamma-tocopherol also appears to help the body eliminate sodium, bringing support for healthy blood pressure.
It is not surprising to learn that the addition of tocotrienols (the other components) enhances vitamin E’s effects. Two supportive functions have been reported:

  1. decreasing cholesterol formation and
  2. preventing and treating atherosclerosis.

Atherosclerosis is the plaque build-up
which causes hardening and narrowing of the arteries. This leads to high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke.
(Cholesterol plays a part in the formation of plaque.) Specifically, tocotrienols appear to slow the liver’s synthesis of cholesterol.

Secondly, an ongoing clinical trial suggests that supplementation with tocotrienols may slow narrowing of the carotid arteries (arteries which carry blood to the face and brain). This is directly related to both heart attack and stroke risk.


The Complete Vitamin E


3 “Natural” describes vitamin E which is derived from food sources, often soy, corn, or rice, as opposed to synthetic which is produced from petrochemicals.

The vitamin E from these natural sources
appear on the label as d-alpha tocopherol.

Natural E has 36 times more potency than the synthetic type. On the other hand, biochemist and allergy research specialist Stephen Levine, PhD, has found that people with allergies to a natural vitamin E source do better on the synthetic version, dl-alpha tocopherol. Be sure to check the label before you buy.

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Vitamin E And A Look At Cancer

When it comes to cancer, breast cancer is the biggest concern of women and prostate cancer, the greatest concern of men.

Regarding breast cancer, vitamin E (as alpha-tocopherol) has no effect on cancer

On the other hand, other forms of vitamin E found in food (such as gamma tocopherol and the tocotrienols) may be responsible for providing the dramatic protective effect as shown in surveys that evaluate total vitamin E intake.

Tocotrienols added to cultures have been
shown to inhibit the growth of estrogen receptor positive breast cancer cells by as much as 50 percent. More importantly, studies show that women who consume
foods high in vitamin E reduce their risk of contracting breast cancer by as much as 90 percent!4

In addition, studies suggest that tocotrienols may be helpful in inhibiting other types of cancer cells and may also
inhibit some carcinogens (cancer-causing substances).

As mentioned, the government sponsored a study using vitamin E (400 IU) and selenium (200 mcg) to see if one or both of these substances could help prevent prostate cancer. Scheduled to complete in
(2012), the study ended after seven years due to a lack of results.

More than 32,000 men over 50 participated in the study. Oppositely, the famous 1998 Finnish Study, a major clinical trial, showed that men taking vitamin E alone
for 6 years had 32 percent fewer cases of prostate cancer and 41 percent fewer deaths from the disease. There were 29,000 participants.

Skin cancer protection is implied by other vitamin E research. Tocotrienols in combination with tocopherols (whole vitamin E) provide a wider spectrum of support to the skin, helping it cope with
UV radiation and environmental
pollutants. In addition, the topical application of tocotrienols helps fight skin damage by penetrating to the deepest
layers of skin cells. Sunscreen products
containing tocotrienols are on the market.

Lastly, researchers from the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center recently found that increased vitamin E intake can cut the risk of lung cancer by more than half. A study reported by the International Journal of Cancer (September 1, 2008)
shows that only 300 IU of d-alpha tocopherol per day (regular vitamin E) reduced lung cancer risk by
61 percent

Vitamin E And A Look At Cancer


4 Several years ago, Michele Marrow, MD, Lake Forest University School of Medicine, compiled and analyzed the large volume of published data about vitamin E and breast cancer.

Her findings were published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry in 2002. If you are interested in more information about this subject, check Search vitamin E and breast cancer. Use the
site to read Dr. Marrow’s overview of her study.

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Vitamin E And The Heart of the Matter

In the 1940s, the pioneering Canadian medical doctors Wilfrid E. Shute and Evan V. Shute prescribed vitamin E therapy to their at risk heart patients. Over several decades, Shutes successfully treated over 30,000 patients. Although they were highly esteemed physicians when they began this
work, they were later shunned by their colleagues for quackery.

Perhaps the Shutes’ best revenge occured when a high school student asked 181 members of the prestigious American
College of Cardiology what practices they were following to prevent heart attack. He found that the cardiologists were five
times more likely than lay persons to take vitamin E supplements.  The startling results of his survey were later published in the American Journal of Cardiology.

Some results from the famed Harvard University studies of health practitioners appeared in the same journal. The participants were 130,000 doctors and nurses.

According to the study, the group with the highest vitamin E intake registered 40 percent fewer heart attacks. Another large study involving 34,000 elderly women was
conducted by researchers at the University of Minnesota. It appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine.

These researchers found a 62 percent lower risk of heart attack in the group with the highest E intake. These are just two
examples of the 1000s of published studies supporting the conclusion that vitamin E lessens heart attack risk.

Two conditions in particular predispose those who have them to heart attack risk greater than the norm: people on dialysis and those with diabetes. Among people who receive dialysis regularly, the death rate from heart and other circulatory problems is 5-20 times higher than the general population.

One study evaluated the effects of taking 800 IU of vitamin E daily. The results, reported in Lancet (a prestigious British
medical journal), showed a 70 percent reduction in heart disease among these patients.5

Those with diabetes have a 4-fold higher risk of heart attack. There is strong evidence that inflammation accelerates the formation of plaque and blood clots. In a study appearing in Free Radical Biology and Medicine, people with type 2 diabetes were matched with healthy controls. Both groups were given 1200 IU of natural vitamin E daily.

Researchers found that inflammation markers were lowered in both groups. This
study demonstrates yet another major role of vitamin E in preventing heart attack.

Scientists have established that the oxidation of LDLs (the “bad” cholesterol) triggers the build-up of plaque in artery walls. This narrows the arteries, making it difficult for blood to get to the heart.

Further, pieces of plaque can break off, clog an artery, and cause a heart attack. This process (atherosclerosis) causes the majority of heart attacks. Vitamin E inhibits the oxidation of LDL cholesterol.

The classic study revealing this finding was published in the Journal of Lipid Research (Jialal and Grundy). LDL oxidation can be lowered further by combining E with vitamin C and the carotenoids (beta carotene, lutein, lycopene, zeaxanthin, and astaxanthin).

Vitamin E And The Heart of the Matter


5 One reason for this is the antioxidant capacity of vitamin E. According to the American Journal of Kidney Disease, dialysis involves a high level of free radical formation, resulting in a number of
negative side effects. The use of vitamin E can significantly suppress this occurrence without affecting the ability of the cells to produce needed proteins.

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Vitamin E Get EEElated!

Food sources of vitamin E are wheat germ oil, wheat germ, egg yolk, butter, most vegetable oils, liver, nuts (particularly almonds), whole wheat and whole wheat flour, and leafy green vegetables. It is also found in avocados and kiwi fruit.

Because we know that in nature vitamin E is a complex of eight nutrients, it is important to incorporate the vitamin E source foods into our diets.

The current RDA/RDI is only 8-10 IU. This is far below the amounts commonly used to achieve therapeutic results. The
Institute of Medicine has set an upper intake level for vitamin E at 1500 IU, and states that the health risk of too
much vitamin E is low.

Unlike other fat soluble vitamins (A, D, and K), the body releases vitamin E much like C and B complex, which are water soluble.

Writing in his New Vitamin Bible, Earl Mindell, RPh, PhD, reports that selenium potentizes vitamin E, when taken 25 mcg
per 200 IU of E. Mindell also reports that the most commonly used doses range from 200 IU to 1200 IU daily, recommending the dry form for people who don’t tolerate oil well and for those over 40.

A number of studies show that vitamin E capsules need to be taken with a meal or food containing fat for best absorption. In addition, vitamin E is a blood thinner and
according to Mindell (a pharmacist), people taking coumadin should limit their supplementation to 400 IU.

If you can’t find the complete form, look for vitamin E with mixed tocopherols and, if necessary, purchase the tocotrienols
separately. These nutrients are often included in formulas containing alpha lipoic acid and/or co-enzyme Q10

Related Resources

Here are three additional Nutrition News 
titles to support our main topic. These selections are “A Woman’s Heart”, “A Natural Approach To Defeating Diabetes”, and “Inflammation”.

Womens-Heart_cover image
Defeating Diabesity Naturaly cover image
Inflammation cover image