Vitamin E benefits have been well-documented in over 70 years of research studies. Vitamin E is your body's most abundant fat-soluble antioxidant, and the single most important antioxidant for heart attack prevention. The breadth and scope of the benefits of vitamin E has made it one of the most significant nutritional discoveries in history.
Vitamin E is not a single compound, but a family of molecules composed of tocopherols and tocotrienols (fat-soluble alcohols), all nearly identical in structure. The four distinct tocopherols are named alpha-, beta-, gamma- and delta-tocopherols.
The fact that vitamin E is so dependent on these other antioxidants means that you won't get the full vitamin E benefits unless you're also getting enough of these other nutrients.
Vitamin E has been proven for years to be the most essential nutrient for heart attack prevention. As far back as 1933, Wilfred and Evan Shute, two cardiologists from Ontario, Canada, began using this vitamin to treat heart conditions. In their 1972 book, the Shutes reported having treated more than 30,000 patients with overwhelming positive results.
What makes vitamin E so valuable in preventing heart disease and atherosclerosis is that it can maneuver into fatty parts of the cell membrane that are inaccessible to the other network antioxidants.
Are You Taking Aspirin to Prevent Heart Attacks? Vitamin E, as well as ginkgo biloba and garlic supplements, have been shown to be more effective and safer than aspirin, which is often recommended by doctors as a strategy for preventing heart disease.
The Hazards of Aspirin Consumption. The use of aspirin on a daily basis may cause stomach irritation that leads to bleeding, and possible kidney problems. Daily aspirin has also been connected to an increase in brain hemorrhages. Learn more about the side effects of aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NAIDs) from wikipedia.
Go to the page on Heart Attack Prevention
to learn more about how antioxidants help in preventing heart disease.
Potential vitamin E benefits include:
Vitamin E benefits may also play a role in the prevention and/or treatment of the following health conditions:
Here is a short list of foods that have the highest levels of vitamin E, measured in International Units (IU):
Other foods that contain vitamin E, although not in significant quantities, include papaya, olives, bell pepper, brussels sprouts, kiwi, tomato, blueberries, and broccoli.
Unrefined sunflower, safflower and peanut oil are also excellent sources, but it's not practical to consume large enough portions of these oils to get the benefits of vitamin E.
Refined oils no longer have vitamin E content. Vitamin E is stripped out of all refined oils during processing and sold to vitamin manufacturers, who convert it to vitamin E supplements! As a result, food products that once contained oils rich in vitamin E now are made with refined oils that don't spoil as easily, but have no nutritional value.
If you want significant vitamin E benefits, supplements are the only way to get them. As you can see from the above table, it's nearly impossible to get even a minimum amount of vitamin E through your diet. To get 400IU of Vitamin E, which would provide you with real vitamin E benefits, you would need to eat:
As you can now see, very few foods, even unprocessed, contain enough vitamin E to guarantee that you get even the minimum RDA of 30IU.
How much vitamin E do you need for therapeutic benefits? The dosage required to make a significant difference in your cardiovascular health is considerably higher than you can get through your diet. The RDA for vitamin E of 30IU is enough to sustain life, but hardly sufficient to give you significant vitamin E benefits. 400IU is a good starting point for healthy individuals, taken with some fat in your meal. I have seen studies where dosages of up to 2,000IU per day were safely used in the treatment of Alzheimer's patients.
Vitamin E supplements have been shown to have side effects when taken in very high doses, 3,000 IU or more. These side effects include intestinal cramps and diarrhea, fatigue, double vision, and muscle weakness. Below the 3000 IU level, the majority of studies do not show toxic effects.
An exception to the generally low risk of toxicity associated with vitamin E involves simultaneous vitamin K deficiency. At moderately high levels of 1,500 IU or more, vitamin E can interfere with the bodily activities of vitamin K. For persons with vitamin K deficiency, high intake of vitamin E can prolong bleeding time and interfere with clotting.
Natural vitamin E and synthetic are not equivalent. Natural vitamin E (d-alpha tocopherol) is usually isolated from vegetable oils, whereas synthetic (dl-alpha tocopherol) is produced from petrochemicals. Natural vitamin E has been found to be about twice as potent as synthetic.
Natural vitamin E is composed of four different tocopherols and tocotrienols:
alpha, beta, gamma and delta. Cheap vitamin E supplements, synthetic
or natural, give you only the most-widely known alpha tocopherol and no tocotrienols. If you
use this type, you won't be getting the full range of benefits that
vitamin E offers. Synthetic vitamin E, without the full complement of supportive nutrients, is the type usually used in research studies — something that generally is not mentioned in the summary. This is why you can dismiss the validity of these studies rather easily.
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More information on vitamin E is available at my page on the
Health Benefits of Vitamin E
Another great resource for information on vitamin E is
The World's Healthiest Foods
Protect the Future of Your Food Supply