Healthy Articles Archive

Nutrient focus: Vitamin E Part 1

Words: Angela Dowden
Angela Dowden studied food science at Nottingham University and worked as a nutritionist before becoming a freelance writer. She's been writing about health, food and nutrition for magazines and national newspapers for 10 years.

Vitamin E's role as a health protector is difficult to overlook thanks to its powerful attributes.

Like most vitamins, Vitamin E is a regular in health headlines. Whilst some researchers criticise this particular vitamin, many have praised it for its potential to protect against heart disease, with some going as far to say that if it wasn't for the high fat and salt content of crisps cooked in sunflower oil, they'd actually be a health food thanks to their Vitamin E content!

As a fat-soluble vitamin, Vitamin E works as an antioxidant with the body's cell walls, protecting it against the negative effects of free radicals. The by-products of energy metabolism, free radicals cause damage to cells through oxidation, a process which has a hand in ageing and the development of disease. Vitamin E helps to keep cell membranes healthy and in the process, contributes to maintaining the nervous system. Originally referred to as the fertility vitamin, it also helps to keep sperm and eggs healthy.

Research also suggests that Vitamin E can help to improve circulation in those with diabetes, as well as protect blood vessels, and prevent damage to DNA that can contribute to some forms of cancer. But its role as a protective vitamin doesn't stop there. Many believe that it can help to prevent the arteries from becoming clogged with lipoprotein, a bad low-density cholesterol. Those involved in the study strongly believe that this form of cholesterol causes obstruction and damage to arteries after it has been oxidised, and that Vitamin E can help to reduce this process.

Vitamin E may also play a vital role in keeping our immune systems healthy by increasing the ability to challenge infection in white blood cells (the cells that fight infection). According to a study at Tufts University in Boston, taking Vitamin E supplements led to an improved antibody response to a range of vaccines for those tested.
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