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6 Vitamin E Benefits

Medically approved by
Dr Earim Chaudry
Last updated
17th September 2021

In 30 seconds…

Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin which is typically stored in your body until needed, and yet many people around the world are still deficient in vitamin E. You can get all the vitamin E you need from foods like nuts, seeds, spinach, broccoli, and tomatoes.

Introducing Vitamin E

There’s a long list of vitamins out there promising benefits for your immune system, your skin, and your overall health. Getting all the nutrients you need can help make sure you’re at the top of your game.

In this article, we’re talking you through the benefits of one vitamin in particular: vitamin E. While not as well-known as the likes of vitamin C, this vitamin supports your wellbeing and contributes to the healthy functioning of your body. 

Here are 6 vitamin E benefits you need to know. And while we’re here, we’ll let you in on the amount of vitamin E you need and where to get it, too.

What is Vitamin E?

Vitamin E is a group of fat-soluble vitamins. These can be stored and used by your body as and when needed. Although there are 8 known varieties of the vitamin, one of the most important for the human body is alpha-tocopherol. This is the most biologically active, and it’s the one most commonly found in supplements and multivitamins.

The vitamin is known for its important role in the chemistry of the human body – in the immune system and the nervous system in particular. However, healthcare experts are still not absolutely sure about everything it can do, and we’re learning more and more about its powers every day.

How Much Vitamin E Do You Need?

According to the NHS, you need 4 mg of vitamin E a day, as a man. Women need less, about 3mg a day. While this is the recommended dietary allowance (RDA), you don’t actually need to have a regular daily intake of vitamin E, as your body can store it for future use.

It’s thought that many people in the US and Europe have low vitamin E levels. However, it often slips under the radar, as the symptoms of vitamin E deficiency are not always obvious. They can include:

  • Nerve and muscle damage, with loss of feeling in extremities (peripheral neuropathy)
  • Loss of control over movement
  • Vision problems and vision loss
  • Weakened immune system

Rather than a failure to get enough vitamin E in your diet, vitamin E deficiency is usually associated with problems absorbing fats. For example, people with bowel disorders are at greater risk of vitamin E deficiency. Even in these cases, though, deficiency remains incredibly rare.

Good sources of vitamin E

You should be able to get all the vitamin E you need from your diet. The best places to get vitamin E are plant and seed oils and nuts, including:

  • Vegetable oils
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Wheatgerm (and wheat germ oil)
  • Hazelnuts
  • Almonds
  • Peanuts

You can also get vitamin E from vegetables and fruit, including spinach, broccoli, tomatoes, and mangos.

Whether or not you’re experiencing the symptoms of vitamin E deficiency, it’s important to keep levels high. Vitamin E supplements can help.

Note. It is possible to have too much vitamin E. While it’s not known precisely how much is a harmful amount, the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) has suggested that more than 180 mg a day may pose risks to your health. When taking supplements, ensure you do not take excessively high doses of vitamin E.

Vitamin E Benefits: What You Need to Know

So, what are the benefits of vitamin E? Let’s see how this vitamin contributes to your overall wellbeing.

1. It’s an Antioxidant

Antioxidants help protect your cells against free radicals, unstable molecules that can damage your cells through a process known as oxidative stress.

Oxidative damage happens to us all, as free radicals are in foods we eat, the air, and water. They’re totally natural, contributing to ageing, as well as to some diseases and conditions, including:

  • Alzheimer’s disease and other conditions affecting the nervous system
  • Diabetes
  • Cataracts
  • Cardiovascular disease and atherosclerosis.

Vitamin E strengthens the membranes of your cells, protecting them against free radical damage and reducing the risk of these conditions.

2. It’s Great for the Skin

One of the better-known effects of vitamin E is in the field of dermatology: it’s great for your skin in a couple of ways.

  • It tackles hyperpigmentation. Hormones can cause dark patches on your skin. Including Vitamin E oil in your skincare could help reduce these marks.
  • It reduces signs of ageing. The visible signs of ageing are often associated with free radical damage. Antioxidants like vitamin E have been found to reduce these signs, keeping you wrinkle-free for longer.

There have been claims that topical vitamin E may help heal wounds and reduce scarring. However, more research in this field is needed.

3. It Boosts Your Immune System

Vitamin E is central to your immune system, contributing to the process of healthy inflammation and boosting immune function.

Importantly, vitamin E supports the healthy growth of T cells, the cells that destroy infected cells and signal to other cells to trigger an immune response. If you don’t get enough of the vitamin, your ability to fight off infection may suffer.

4. It May Reduce Risk of Heart Disease

Thanks to its antioxidative function, vitamin E may be pretty good for your cardiovascular system. Antioxidants have been found to reduce atherosclerosis, the condition caused by increased plaque in your arteries, for example.

Consumption of foods rich in vitamin E has also been associated in clinical trials with a reduced risk of heart disease. However, health professionals have not yet confirmed whether there is a direct link – and whether vitamin E supplementation can help.

5. Vitamin E May Help Protect Against Neurodegenerative Disease.

There is some evidence that vitamin E can help reduce the risk of neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer’s, cystic fibrosis, ataxia, and Parkinson’s. That’s because vitamin E is essential for the healthy function of the nervous system.

People with cystic fibrosis have been found to have lower levels of vitamin E – and dietary supplements containing vitamin E have been seen to help. Similarly, people with Alzheimer’s have low levels of the vitamin too – and it is thought that supplementary vitamin E might be able to slow decline.

6. It Could Help Hair Growth

Oxidation associated with free radicals is thought to cause damage to your hairline. Getting enough vitamin E in your diet could be crucial for hair growth.

Meanwhile, vitamin E has been found to increase blood circulation and follicle size, in a similar way to the hair loss treatment, Minoxidil. However, so far, research has only studied its effects on mice. More research will be needed before these benefits can be confirmed.

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Key Takeaways

Vitamin E is vital for your overall health. However, many otherwise healthy people do not get all of the vitamin they need. This can have negative side effects on your immune system, your cardiovascular health, and the health of your skin and hair.

You can get enough by making sure your diet is rich in vegetable oils, seeds, and nuts. And if that’s not your thing, there’s always vitamin E supplements.

FAQs

What does vitamin E do?

Vitamin E, though less well known than other vitamins, is essential to the health of your immune system and nervous system. However, it has plenty of other benefits, too.

How do I know if I’m not getting enough vitamin E?

Vitamin E deficiency is rare, and is usually more to do with a problem absorbing fats, common in people with bowel disorders, for example. Signs of vitamin E deficiency include: nerve and muscle damage, loss of control over movement, vision problems and loss of sight, and a weakened immune system.

What are the benefits of vitamin E?

Vitamin E has many benefits; it’s an antioxidant, is great for the skin, may help protect against heart disease and neurodegenerative diseases, and may even help hair growth.

Where can I get vitamin E?

You can always buy vitamin E supplements, but there are plenty of foods naturally rich in vitamin E, including: spinach, broccoli, mangoes, tomatoes, vegetable oils, sunflower seeds, wheatgerm, hazelnuts, almonds, and peanuts.

References

  1. NHS – Vitamin EVitamins and minerals – https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vitamins-and-minerals/vitamin-e/

  2. Janice E.Maras, Odilia I.Bermudez PhD, MPH Ning Qiao, MS Peter J.Bakun, Esther L.Boody-Alter, Katherine L.TuckerPhD (2004). Intake of α-tocopherol is limited among US adults – https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0002822304000057

  3. National Institutes of Health – Vitamin E – https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminE-Consumer/

  4. Ruža Pandel, Borut Poljšak, Aleksandar Godic, and Raja Dahmane (2013). Skin Photoaging and the Role of Antioxidants in Its Prevention – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3789494/

  5. Ga Young Lee and Sung Nim Han (2018). The Role of Vitamin E in Immunity – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6266234/

  6. Adonis SaremiRohit Arora (2010). Vitamin E and cardiovascular disease – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19451807/

  7. Chandan K SenSavita KhannaSashwati Roy (2004). Tocotrienol: the natural vitamin E to defend the nervous system? – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15753140/

  8. Peters, S. A, Kelly, F. J. (1996). Vitamin E Supplementation in Cystic Fibrosis – https://journals.lww.com/jpgn/Fulltext/1996/05000/Vitamin_E_Supplementation_in_Cystic_Fibrosis.1.aspx

     

  9. Declan Browne, Bernadette McGuinness, Jayne V Woodside, and Gareth J McKay (2019). Vitamin E and Alzheimer’s disease: what do we know so far? – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6645610/

  10. Kiichiro Yano, Lawrence F. Brown, and Michael Detmar (2001). Control of hair growth and follicle size by VEGF-mediated angiogenesis – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC199257/

While we've ensured that everything you read on the Health Centre is medically reviewed and approved, information presented here is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. It should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. If you have any questions or concerns, please talk to your doctor.

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