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Why Your Blood Needs Vitamin E (Tocopherol)

Why Your Blood Needs Vitamin E (Find Out Here)

Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant which works with the body’s natural defense system to prevent free radical damage.

The term vitamin E describes a family of eight related fat-soluble molecules. Among these, alpha-tocopherol has the highest biological activity and is the most abundant in the human body.

Vitamin E is present in dietary fat, because of it’s fat-soluble property the vitamin can be stored within the fatty tissues of humans.

Studies have shown that a mixture of tocopherols has a stronger inhibitory effect on lipid peroxidation induced in human erythrocytes compared to alpha-tocopherol alone.

In this article, you will know the benefits and functions of vitamin E, why your blood needs this essential vitamin, and it’s impacts on human health.

What is vitamin E and what does it do in the blood?

Vitamin E is a fat-soluble nutrient found in foods and vegetable oils.

In the blood, vitamin E acts as an antioxidant helping to protect cells from the damage caused by free radicals.

The body also needs vitamin E to boost it’s immune system so that it can fight off invading bacteria and viruses. It helps to widen blood vessels and keep blood from clotting within them.

Vitamin E may help prevent the oxidation of bad cholesterol which contributes to plaque buildup in the arteries.

In addition, cells in the blood use vitamin E to interact with each other and to carry out many functions.

Benefits and functions of vitamin E

A sufficient intake of vitamin E is important as it functions as:

  • Chain-breaking antioxidant
  • Protects cell membranes
  • Enhances immune response
  • Regulates platelet aggregation
  • Regulates protein kinase C activation
  • Regulates the opening of blood vessels
  • Prevents protein oxidation and lipid peroxidation
  • Inhibits damaging blood clotting potentially blocking blood flow

There are eight naturally occurring forms of vitamin E; namely, the alpha, beta, gamma and delta
classes of tocopherol and tocotrienol which are synthesized by plants from homogentisic acid.

Alpha and gamma-tocopherols are the two major forms of vitamin E, with the relative proportions of these depending on the source.

The richest dietary sources of vitamin E are edible vegetable oils as they contain all the different homologues in varying proportions.

Among the tocopherols, alpha and gamma-tocopherols are found in serum and red blood cells, with alpha-tocopherol present in highest concentration.

Why vitamin E is good for your blood

Researchers are studying vitamin E to see it’s impact on human health. Here are some of the reasons why this essential vitamin is good for your blood.

Heart Disease

Vitamin E helps to prevent arteries from clogging by blocking the conversion of cholesterol into the
waxy fat deposits called plaque that stick to blood vessel walls.

Vitamin E also thins the blood,
allowing it to flow more easily through arteries even when plaque is present.

Many clinical studies have reported that the amount of vitamin E ingested in food and supplements lowers the risk of heart disease, atherosclerosis and other types of cardiovascular disease.

One large clinical study in postmenopausal women showed that vitamin E supplementation had no effect on the incidence of stroke but reduced the risk of blockage of blood flow in veins by a blood clot.

Immune Function

Vitamin E has been shown to enhance specific aspects of the immune response that appear to decline as people age.

A clinical trial in elderly nursing home residents reported that daily supplementation with vitamin E lowered the risk of upper respiratory tract infections, especially the common cold but had no effect on lung infections.

More research is needed to determine whether supplemental vitamin E may protect the elderly
against common cold.

Eye Health

Because of it’s antioxidant action, vitamin E may help protect against clouding of the lens of the eye and a progressive deterioration in the retina, the back part of the eye.

Both of these eye disorders tend to occur as people age leading to impaired vision.

To minimize risk of these eye disorders, experts advocate diets high in vitamin E, vitamin C, and
carotenoids.

Alzheimer’s Disease

Since researchers believe that oxidative stress contributes to alzheimer’s disease, antioxidants like vitamin E in your blood could potentially help prevent this condition.

The fat-soluble vitamin E can readily enter the brain and exert it’s antioxidative properties.

Clinical studies have suggested that vitamin E supplementation together with vitamin C may prevent the development of alzheimer’s disease.

Dietary sources of vitamin E

Vitamin E is found naturally in foods and is added to some fortified foods.

You can get recommended amounts of vitamin E by eating a variety of foods including the following:

  • Sunflower seeds
  • Safflower oils
  • Soybean oils
  • Peanuts
  • Hazelnuts
  • Spinach
  • Broccoli

Food companies add vitamin E to some breakfast cereals, fruit juices, margarine and spreads, and other foods. To find out which ones have vitamin E check the product labels.

The vitamin E content of vegetables, fruits, dairy products, fish and meat is relatively low.

What about dietary vitamin E supplements?

Vitamin E supplements come in different amounts and forms. Two main things to consider when choosing a vitamin E supplement.

The amount of vitamin E

Most once-daily multivitamin supplements provide about 13.5 mg of vitamin E, whereas vitamin E-only supplements commonly contain 67 mg.

The doses in most vitamin E-only supplements are much higher than the recommended amounts.

Some people take large doses because it lowers the risk of certain diseases.

The form of vitamin E

Although vitamin E sounds like
a single substance, it is actually the name of eight related compounds in food, including alpha-tocopherol. Each form has a different potency in the body.

Are you getting enough vitamin E in your blood?

The diets of most people provide less than the recommended amounts of vitamin E.

However, healthy people rarely show any clear signs that they are not getting enough vitamin E.

What happens if you don’t get enough vitamin E in your blood?

Vitamin E deficiency is very rare. It is linked to certain diseases where fat is not properly digested. Examples include; cystic fibrosis, abetalipo-proteinemia and ataxia with vitamin E deficiency.

Vitamin E needs some fat for the digestive system to absorb it.
Vitamin E deficiency can cause:

  • Nerve and muscle damage
  • Loss of body movement control
  • Muscle weakness
  • Vision problems
  • Weakened immune system

Vitamin E deficiency can also occur in newborn premature infants. Without sufficient vitamin E, an infant’s red blood cells rupture, and this makes the newborn become anemic.

How much vitamin E do you need?

The amount of vitamin E you need in your blood each day depends on your age.

Average daily recommended amounts are listed below in milligrams.

  • Birth to 6 months: 4 mg
  • Infants 7–12 months: 5 mg
  • Children 1–3 years: 6 mg
  • Children 4–8 years: 7 mg
  • Children 9–13 years: 11 mg
  • Teens 14–18 years: 15 mg
  • Adults: 15 mg
  • Pregnant women: 15 mg
  • Breastfeeding women: 19 mg

Does vitamin E interact with other medications?

Vitamin E dietary supplements can interfere with certain medicines that you take.

Vitamin E increases the risk of bleeding in people taking antiplatelet medicines such as warfarin.

In one study, vitamin E plus other antioxidants including vitamin C, selenium, and beta-carotene reduced the heart-protective effects of two drugs, statin and niacin, taken in combination to affect blood-cholesterol levels.

Is vitamin E harmful to the blood?

Eating foods containing vitamin E is not harmful to your blood at all.

In supplement form, however, high doses of vitamin E might increase the risk of serious bleeding in the brain.

Because of this risk, the upper limit for adults is 1,000 mg/day for supplements of vitamin E.

This is equal to 1,500 IU/day for natural vitamin E supplements and 1,100 IU/day for synthetic vitamin E supplements. The upper limits for children are lower than those for adults.

Some research suggests that taking vitamin E supplements even below these upper limits might cause harm.

In one study, for example, men who took 180 mg of synthetic vitamin E each day for several years had an increased risk of prostate cancer.

Conclusion

Vitamin E is an important nutrient for maintaining good health and it is especially important for keeping your blood healthy.

Vitamin E helps to protect your blood cells from damage and keeps your blood clotting properly.

If you don’t get enough vitamin E in your diet, you may be at risk for developing some serious health problems.

So make sure to include foods that are rich in vitamin E in your diet, such as leafy green vegetables, nuts, and seeds.

If you’re considering taking a vitamin E supplement talk to your doctor first to see if it is right for you.

Related Post: Why your blood needs vitamin D

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