Vitamin E is the collective name for a group of fat-soluble compounds. These compounds include both tocopherols (alpha-, beta-, gamma-, and delta-tocopherol) and tocotrienols (alpha-, beta-, gamma-, and delta-tocotrienol). All of these compounds have distinctive antioxidant activities. It is only lately that the research has begun to focus on specific tocopherols, rather than just “vitamin E”.
Vitamin E is most commonly known as highly effective antioxidant, but it also has other functions, some of them completely unrelated to its role as an antioxidant. These properties include:
- promotion of heart health
- promotion of respitory health
- helping with PMS symptoms
- supporting circulation
- supporting prostate and breast health
- good for your brain
Studies have also confirmed benefits of vitamin E when fighting a cold. According to study published by Tufts University in 2004, already 200IU of vitamin E supplement decreased the probability to develop respitory infections by 20% and the probability to develop colds by 22%.
Best food sources for vitamin E include wheat germ oil, dry roasted Sunflower seeds and dry roasted almonds. RDA for vitamin E is approx. 30IU per day for adults and 5-15 IU per day for children (depending of country you live in). It is highly probable that for example average diet in the US supplies considerably less than this amount of vitamin E. Prominent researchers believe that the body’s need for vitamin E is much higher than RDA suggests. Some say that healthy females should have 400IU a day and healthy males even 600IU a day.
Most often referred and sold form of vitamin E is synthetic form called dl-alpha-tocopherol. This form should be avoided and natural vitamin E complex, containing both tocopherols and tocotrienols should be used instead. If this can’t be found, then a product containing mixed natural tocopherols is recommendable. (The most beneficial forms of vitamin E are alpha-, and gamma-tocopherol. Thus at least these two forms should be found from the supplement used.) Since vitamin E is fat soluble, its best absorbed when taken with a meal containing fat.
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