Vitamin E is an important nutrient, but what does vitamin E do and what are its health benefits?
Vitamin E is a fat soluble vitamin that can't be produced by the body and must be obtained from food or supplements. Because vitamin E is fat soluble, the body stores it in the liver and fatty tissues and excretes it much more slowly than it does water soluble vitamins.
Vitamin E exists in eight different forms: alpha, beta, gamma and delta tocopherol; and alpha, beta, gamma and delta tocotrienol. Each form has its own biological activity, which is the measure of potency or functional use in the body.
Vitamin E supplements are available in natural and synthetic forms. Natural forms are usually labeled with the letter "d" (for example, d-alpha-tocopherol), whereas synthetic forms are usually labeled with the letters "dl" (for example, dl-alpha-tocopherol).
Natural forms of vitamin E are superior to synthetic forms. Natural vitamin E is better absorbed and retained by the body and is more biologically active. D-alpha-tocopherol is considered to have the highest biological activity of all the different forms of vitamin E.
Vitamin E has several important functions within the body. It protects cell membranes and it helps keep skin, eyes, nerves, muscles, red blood cells and the immune system healthy. Vitamin E is also an antioxidant. Antioxidants protect the body's cells against the effects of free radicals. Free radicals can cause cell damage that leads to aging and the development of some diseases.
Vitamin E has been promoted as a treatment for various illnesses, such as heart disease, certain types of cancer, Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia, liver disease, stroke, diabetes and Parkinson's disease, but the evidence for these claims is mixed.
The Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) for vitamin E (based on the d-alpha-tocopherol form of the vitamin) is 22 IU per day for adult men and women. Many scientists and health experts believe that this amount is too low, and recommend anywhere from 100 IU to 800 IU per day.
Many scientists and health experts also believe that the Institute of Medicine's tolerable upper intake level of 1,500 IU per day is too low. Some even believe that the tolerable upper intake level for vitamin E should be as high as 5,000 IU per day.
Numerous foods contain vitamin E. Wheat germ and wheat germ oil, nuts (especially almonds and hazelnuts), seeds (especially sunflower seeds), vegetable oils (sunflower, corn, safflower, soybean etc.), sweet potatoes, peanuts and turnip greens are among the best sources of vitamin E.
Vitamin E supplements are a convenient and reliable source of vitamin E for people who don't get enough of the vitamin through their diet.
In conclusion, vitamin E is an important nutrient and you need to make sure that you get enough vitamin E every day.
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