Tue | Oct 19, 2021

Ounce of Prevention | Vitamin E is Key

Published:Tuesday | July 25, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Vitamin E rich foods

Vitamin E is actually a family of eight natural compounds, the tocopherols. This word is derived from Greek and literally means 'to bear children', and may have originated from early research that showed that rats fed a diet without any vitamin E became sterile. The vitamin was then touted as a fertility vitamin, but is now known to be much more than that.




Vitamin E is a major dietary antioxidant and plays a vital role in protecting our cells from damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are dangerous substances that arise both internally from normal body functions as well as externally from environmental and dietary pollution. Excess free radicals are responsible for many diseases, including cancer, circulation disorders, blood clots, inflammation, degeneration and even the ageing process itself. Antioxidant protection is therefore critical to good health.

Because vitamin E is fat-soluble, it particularly protects the delicate cell membranes found in the blood cells, nervous system, circulatory system, reproductive system and muscles. These cell membranes are fatty structures and are easily damaged by free radicals. Vitamin E also helps to protect A, C and the B vitamins from damage.




This antioxidant is promoted in preventing degenerative diseases like heart disease, strokes, arthritis, senility, Alzheimer's disease, diabetes and cancer. It has several documented medical uses:




Vitamin E, like the drug digoxin, strengthens and regulates the heartbeat at doses of 800 international units (IU) and more daily. Vitamin E has an oxygen-sparing effect on the heart, enabling the organ to function better on less oxygen. This can benefit recovering heart-attack patients considerably. Doses over 1,200 IU daily can help angina sufferers.

A Harvard Health Letter states that vitamin E may protect people against heart disease and that taking doses of up to 800 IU per day may lower the risk of heart disease by 30 to 40 per cent.

Many decades ago, vitamin E researchers Dr Wilfrid and Evan Shute had showed that, with even higher doses and with an insistence on using natural vitamin E, the results are even better.




Vitamin E reduces inflammation, scarring and keloids when applied topically to burns, wounds or even surgical incisions. It promotes healing and helps the skin look younger. Skin application of vitamin E also helps with eczema, skin ulcers, cold sores and shingles. Modern high-quality skin-care products, using the concept of 'outer nutrition', include vitamin E and other antioxidants in their formulations.




Vitamin E has a mild 'blood thinning' effect. Very high doses of this vitamin act synergistically with anticoagulant drugs. This means that vitamin E can, under a doctor's supervision, entirely or in part, substitute for such drugs. Vitamin E inhibits clot formation without producing a bleeding tendency and protects against venous thrombosis.

Vitamin E improves blood flow, as it gently dilates blood vessels and promotes collateral circulation, and offers great benefits to diabetics and others with circulatory problems.




Vitamin E normalises high blood pressure in some hypertensive persons, but large doses started suddenly may cause a slight temporary increase in blood pressure. In treating high blood pressure, it is best to increase the vitamin E dose gradually, while monitoring the blood pressure.




As early as the 1930s, doctors successfully treated habitual abortion in women with vitamin E from wheat germ oil with a success rate of about 80 per cent. Others reported success in combating threatened abortion and toxemias in pregnancy as well.

Male fertility also benefits from vitamin E. Sperm development is a delicate process, and sperm cells are especially vulnerable to the damaging effects of free radicals. Vitamin E and other antioxidants are essential for sperm health, and several clinical studies show that men who consumed them had improved sperm count and motility.




The most common reasons for poor results using vitamin E are either a failure to use enough of it, or from not using the natural form (D-alpha, plus mixed natural tocopherols). There are two groups of vitamin E - tocopherols and tocotrienols - that work together to provide disease protection.

Vitamin E from natural sources is obtained by distillation of vegetable oils, while synthetic vitamin E is manufactured from coal tar.

The natural form includes the letter `d` at the beginning of the name of the tocopherol, while the synthetic form will have the letters 'dl'. The vitamin E used in most inexpensive vitamin supplements is often synthetic.

Vitamin E is found in nuts, seeds, vegetable and nut oils, whole grains, wheat germ, green vegetables like callaloo and spinach, asparagus, avocado, beef, seafood, apples, carrots, celery, etc.

In order to ensure you receive the antioxidant benefits from this powerful vitamin, you need to cut refined foods and sugar from your diet and eat vitamin E rich foods. Then supplement with a natural, not a synthetic, vitamin E, taking from 400 up to 1200 IU per day.




As the antioxidants work best as a team, combine your vitamin E with the other antioxidants: A, C, selenium and herbs like green tea, schizandra and pycnogenol. This will make vitamin E work better, harder and longer. The herb rosemary contains a special group of antioxidants called rosemanols that recycle vitamin E after it has been used up in destroying free radicals. Rosemary really boosts vitamin E activity.

Vitamin E is very non-toxic. Very large doses may cause some diarrohea, nausea or gas, and people on anticoagulant (blood-thinner medication) should probably avoid taking more than 1,200 IU per day.

- You may email Dr Vendryes at tonyvendryes@gmail.com or listen to 'An Ounce of Prevention' on POWER 106 FM on Fridays at 9:00pm. Visit www.tonyvendryes.com for details on his books and articles.