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Why your body – and beauty – needs vitamin E

Avocado halves, broccoli, nuts and oil arranged on table
There is no doubt about it: vitamin E is important for the body. From pepping up your skin to easing menstrual pain, this vitamin is great for your health. But what exactly is vitamin E and what other benefits does it offer?

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.

Read more: Discover the best vitamins for healthy skin

It eases period discomfort

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 discomfort 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 discomfort, and the number of days they were in discomfort, reduced.

The study authors concluded that vitamin E inhibits the action of certain compounds in the body that can trigger menstrual discomfort.

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.

Last updated: 2 August 2021

Sources

  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. 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/
  7. 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/
  8. Keen, MA, Hassan I. Vitamin E in Dermatology. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4976416/
 
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