What is Vitamin E really??

Ok so last semester we focused on the vitamins that are water soluble and this semester we are moving on to fat soluble vitamins. So what does that mean? Basically that these vitamins need to eaten with a meal that contains some form of fat to be able to absorb them otherwise only a small amount will be assimilated into the body. And what are these wonderful vitamins in? Mainly your leafy greens, and other colourful vegies – so this comes back to making sure you have some fat with your salads and stirfries people.. a good drizzle of olive oil, some flaxseed or grapeseed oil (cold pressed of course), some avocado, nuts and seeds, or fish..

For this post though I shall focus in on Vitamin E and what we learnt, and why that made me yell at the state of the world we live in.

Vitamin E is the collective name given to 8 very closely related compounds which are individually named:

  • Alpha, beta, gamma and delta – tocepherol
  • & Alpha, beta, gamma and delta – tocotrienol

The main isomer found in nature, and in the body is alpha tocepherol, however all the others have their own important role in the body. As far as our wonderful lecturer is aware the only 2 brands that contain all 8 compounds in their natural form are Dr Vera’s and Nutrition Care.

So why do we need Vitamin E?? Before this lecture the main thing I knew about it was that its great for skin.. and this is still true, but Vitamin E’s main function is Cardiac Health, and the cessation of free radical damage through its strong anti-oxidant function.

Vitamin E is stored in fat cells throughout the body where damage easily occurs, thus the more weight you carry, the more Vit E you will need.

So what’s the difference between the tocopherols and the tocotrienols?? The former are more easily absorbed when ingested, and the latter, through the skin. They also move around differently in the body as their chemical structures differ in size in shape – which is why a varied diet is so important :) As with most other Vitamins i’ve mentioned before they are dependent on other nutrients to regenerate them and work in conjunction – and in this case Vit E needs Vit A & C, as well as Zinc and Selenium.. (More on them soon).

E’s are mainly found in vegetable oils, nuts and seed and help prevent the fats in these foods from becoming rancid – as well as the fats in our body. When purchasing these products it is important to keep in mind that fats are quite unstable when exposed to heat and light – so try and buy oils in dark coloured bottles that haven’t sat under the fluro lights of a supermarket – and same goes for big bags of nuts.

The great thing about Vitamin E is that we don’t need heaps of it to get a therapeutic benefit – if supplementation is required one 400IU tablet is normally sufficient. IU’s you ask?? This represents the International Unit – which does differ from weight. It measures the amount of biological activity and effect of the sample, rather than just stating how much there is. Most fat soluble vitamins are measured this way so if you have any supplements at home, or are thinking of buying any – make sure they don’t use milligrams :)

So how does it help with cardiovascular health?? It has a vasodilator effect (widens blood vessels allowing more blood to flow through, thus lowering blood pressure) and also thins the blood making it not so ‘sticky’, and is a powerful anti-oxidant, repairing damage to cell tissue and DNA. As little as 100IU’s has been shown to reduce the incidence of heart attack by 40%.

It is also plays an essential role in conception, and childhood dietary health and wellbeing.

The other cool thing about Vitamin E is that whilst the tocepherols are highly anti oxidant, the tocotrienols are immunity boosters.

Now the part that made me yell at the world during this lecture was that most companies sell synthetic forms of Vitamin E – which of course they don’t state on the side of the bottle, and the synthetic version cannot be absorbed into the body. What a waste.. And WHY?!?!?! Why do they make these things that are never going to work?? Is it just to make money? Do they not care about health? Ahhhhhhh hahaha. Deep Breath.

So, anyone with BioOil out there – i’m sorry to say its not going to work. Nor is a supplement that states the amount in mg. Nor are most products you buy at the pharmacy.

So.. Eat well, eat fresh and look out for the above supplements if this is something you think you could use more of :)

(Caution needs to be taken with medications used such as Warfarin).


2 thoughts on “What is Vitamin E really??

  1. AntonikaChanel says:

    Wonderful post! The easiest way to get vitamin E is by blending veggies and making a smoothie. I had fruits to mine for a sweeter taste. Raw veggies = phytonutrients. Phytonutrients are are nutrients derived from plant material that have been shown to be necessary for sustaining human life.

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