Vitamin E has a number of roles in the body, from building healthy hair, skin and eyes, to supporting your immune system. So, what can it do for you?
What is vitamin E?
Vitamin E isn’t just one vitamin; it’s actually a group of fat-soluble compounds. There are eight different types of vitamin E, with alpha-tocopherol the most common form found throughout the body.
You can find vitamin E in foods such as nuts and seeds, avocados, wholegrains, and vegetable oils.1 We store vitamin E in our bodies’ fatty tissues, so we don’t need to eat it every day.2
Why is vitamin E good for us?
Vitamin E has a range of functions, including bolstering our body’s defences and maintaining healthy skin and eyes.
A review by Indian researchers in 2014 found that taking 200mg of vitamin E every day could improve the immune system in healthy volunteers, while elderly people experienced increased resistance to viruses and a reduced number of infections over three years.3
Vitamin E is also a powerful antioxidant, helping to protect cell membranes against free-radical damage.4 Oxidative stress has been linked to a number of conditions such as arthritis, ageing and heart disease.
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It eases period pains
When you’re clutching a hot-water bottle to your stomach, it can feel like nothing relieves the misery of menstrual cramps. But a study published in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology in 2004 revealed that girls taking vitamin E supplements experienced less period pain and blood loss.5
Nearly 300 girls aged between 15 and 17 were given either 200mg of vitamin E or a placebo twice a day over four months. Those in the vitamin E group said both their menstrual pain, and the number of days they were in pain, reduced.
The study authors concluded that vitamin E inhibits the action of certain compounds in the body that can trigger menstrual pain.
It wards off Alzheimer’s Disease
Vitamin E could also help your brain stay sharp as you age. In 1997, the Alzheimer’s Disease Cooperative Study found the vitamin can block the production of hydrogen peroxide, which – along with other mechanisms – can result in Alzheimer’s.6
The same research found vitamin E could also slow progression in those with moderately severe forms of the disease.
Vitamin E and your beauty regime
There is a whole host of potential benefits to including vitamin E in your beauty routine. A study published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology in 2004 revealed that topical application of a gel containing vitamin E, among other vitamins, is ‘effective’ at reducing dark under-eye circles and wrinkles.7
What’s more, vitamin E can help keep your locks looking lustrous. A 32-week trial by Malaysian scientists in 2010 found that a vitamin E supplement increased the amount of hair in volunteers suffering from hair loss, compared with those taking a placebo.8
The team say the reason vitamin E could stimulate hair growth is most likely down to its antioxidant properties, reducing oxidative stress in the scalp which has been linked to alopecia.
And finally, vitamin E is also good for your nails. According to a 2016 review published in the Indian Dermatology Online Journal, there is some evidence that vitamin E can tackle poor nails too,9 helping them grow stronger and straighter.
So why not add vitamin E to your beauty regime before splashing out on expensive salon treatments?
Advice is for information only and should not replace medical care. Please consult a doctor or healthcare professional before trying any remedies.
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1. University of Maryland Medical Centre. Vitamin E. Available from: https://www.umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/vitamin-e
2. Rizvi, S, et al. The Role of Vitamin E in Human Health and Some Diseases. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3997530/
3. As above
4. As above
5. Ziaei S, Zakeri M, Kazemnijad A. A randomised controlled trial of vitamin E in the treatment of primary dysmenorrhoea. Available from: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1471-0528.2004.00495.x/full
6. Sano M, et al. A controlled trial of selegiline, alpha-tocopherol, or both as treatment for Alzheimer’s disease. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9110909
7. Mitsuishi T, et al. The effects of topical application of phytonadione, retinol and vitamins C and E on infraorbital dark circles and wrinkles of the lower eyelids. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17147559/
8. Beoy LA, et al. Effects of Tocotrienol Supplementation on Hair Growth in Human Volunteers. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3819075/
9. Keen, MA, Hassan I. Vitamin E in Dermatology. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4976416/