The Health Benefits of Vitamin E (Tocopherol)

The Health Benefits of Vitamin E (Tocopherol)

Introduction and Biological Role

Hey folks, let's take a few minutes to give an overview of vitamin E and all the things that I think are worth knowing about it, including any health benefits. It is a fat soluble compound which generally acts as an anti-oxidant. You may also hear it referred to as tocopherol or tocotrienol, alpha tocopherol being the most important form.

Because it is fat soluble, bioavailability depends on fat digestion and absorption. It is transported around the body piggybacking on various lipoproteins such as chylomicrons and VLDL.

Everything  I’m going to say is evidence based with research to back it up. Overally, The therapeutic benefits of supplementing with vitamin E appear to be few, if any. Ultimately it needs more research across the board.

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Potential Medical Benefits

  • May slow progression of alzheimers, but data is not conclusive.
  • May reduce risk of cataracts or age related macular degeneration, although this is controversial.
  • May be protective against tardive dyskinesia.
  • No effect in preventing stroke
  • Mixed evidence in it’s ability to prevent heart disease

It’s effects on cancer as a whole are not well understood and the evidence to support supplementing for this purpose are insufficient. One large scale study was stopped because it was found to increase the risk of prostate cancer.

Toxicity

Toxic doses may impair absorption of other vitamins, increase risk of bleeding, necrotizing enterocolitis in children and anemia.

A meta-analysis found that individuals supplementing with high dose vitamin E had an increased risk of all cause mortality. Thus, individuals without special indications should not take vitamin E supplements for disease prevention without consulting their doctor.

Deficiency

Uncommon except in individuals with difficulty absorbing fat soluble vitamins prolonged deficiency can present with neurological symptoms and abnormalities in RBC

Best Dietary Sources

The best dietary sources include oils, meats, eggs, and leafy vegetables.

Recommended Daily Allowance

The RDA is 15 mg per day in adolescents and young adults, although supplementation is not recommended for the general population. Individuals with cholestatic or pancreatic disease may have difficulty absorbing enough from a typical diet and should discuss the issue with their physician.

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