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What is Vitamin E?

Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin and a powerful antioxidant, which protects your skin from damage. It is naturally found in many food products and is stored by the body until required. Vitamin E has eight different compounds, the most active form of which is alpha-tocopherol. It maintains the normal elasticity of your skin, which helps in avoiding wear and tear, and premature aging or wrinkles, which can be caused due to free radicals. The benefits of vitamin E for skin and hair are countless, which will be discussed in further sections, but first, let’s discuss what causes this wear and tear of the skin.

What are free radicals?

Free radical refers to unpaired or single cells, which are highly active to form a pair. They thus have the potential to damage your skin and body cells by reacting aggressively with them. This reaction initiates the process of oxidative stress, which is responsible for the damage caused to your cells. While free radicals mainly damage the skin, they can also affect other tissues and organ systems of the body such as the central nervous system, cardiovascular system, immune system, etc. Uncontrolled activity of these cells can cause the following disorders:

  • Central Nervous System disorders like Alzheimer's disease or dementia.
  • Skin disorders like premature wrinkles, loss of skin elasticity or smoothness, change in skin texture, etc.
  • Hair problems like hair fall, and premature greying of hair.
  • Autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Certain types of cancers.
  • Degenerative disorders.
  • Atherosclerosis by causing clogging of arteries.
  • Eye disorders like vision decline, blurred sight or cataract.
  • Diabetes.

What causes free radicals in the body?

Free radicals are formed naturally; however certain lifestyle factors such as smoking, excessive alcoholism or consumption of too much fried/junk food; and environmental factors like, exposure to environmental pollutants, chemicals, pesticides or other agents, which can alter body mechanisms, are known to accelerate the production of free radicals by the body.

How does Vitamin E help to fight free radicals?

As stated above, vitamin E is rich in antioxidants; antioxidants help in preventing oxidation of other molecules, having the potential to decelerate the reaction of free radicals. This is enabled by the provision of an extra electron to free radicals, thereby reducing their activity and chemical instability.

  1. How to take vitamin E?
  2. How much Vitamin E per day?
  3. Side effects of vitamin E
  4. Benefits of Vitamin E
  5. Food sources of Vitamin E

As discussed above, vitamin E can be added naturally to the diet or used as supplements in the form of tablets or capsules. It is also available in the form of skin ointments, lotions and hair oils. A few ways you can use vitamin E for improving hair and skin health have been explained below.

  1. Vitamin E hair mask
  2. Vitamin E capsules for skin
  3. Vitamin E for face

Vitamin E hair mask

Hair masks are effective in enhancing hair health and soothing and nourishing the scalp. Vitamin E aids all these requirements. Here is how you can make and use your own hair mask at home.

  • Combine one mashed banana and avocado with 1 tablespoon of avocado oil and coconut oil. Now, add one tablespoon of honey to this to form a fine paste or mask.
  • Massage this mask into your hair and scalp, with the help of your fingers. Let it sit for 15 to 20 minutes, then gently rinse off with a mild shampoo and warm water.

Vitamin E capsules for skin

If you suffer from oily skin and acne, we have got you a perfect solution in the form of a 2-ingredient, simple homemade mask. Just combine 1 tsp of honey with a vitamin E capsule to form a smooth paste. Let is sit on your face for 15 minutes and rinse well. You will be left with glowing skin free of acne.

Vitamin E for face

If you suffer from oily skin and acne, we have got you a perfect solution in the form of a 2-ingredient, simple homemade mask. Just combine 2 teaspoons of honey with 2 vitamin E capsules to form a smooth paste. Let is sit on your face for 15 minutes and rinse well. You will be left with glowing skin free of acne.

The recommended daily intake of vitamin E for individuals aged 14 years and above is 15 mg/d of alpha-tocopherol, that is equivalent to 22 IU from natural sources or 33IU from synthetic sources. However, in case of deficiency, an equivalent of 60-75 IU per day is recommended (1 IU is equal to 0.9 mg of tocopherol). Natural vitamin E is derived from dietary sources mentioned above and is absolutely safe. Synthetic derivatives that are in the form of tablets and supplements must be consumed only at physician’s consult to avoid potential side effects.

If you are consuming vitamin E for other health purposes, you are strictly recommended to follow your physician’s advice before and during the period of consumption of this vitamin, since dosing highly depends on age, weight, height, gender and other factors, in addition to the purpose of taking these substitutes. Here is a guidance table.

Age Males   Females
Upto 6 months 4 mg 4 mg
7 months to 1 year 5 mg 5 mg
1 to 3 years 6 mg 6 mg
4 to 8 years 7 mg 7 mg
9 to 13 years 11 mg 11 mg
14 years and beyond 15 mg 15 mg

Besides the abovementioned quantities for women, breastfeeding women should take additional vitamin E. The recommended daily intake of vitamin E for lactating women is 19mg.

Taking vitamin E in the daily recommended dosages is usually safe, but a higher dosage can have the following side effects:

Points to be noted while/before consuming vitamin E

  • In case you are a diabetic, you should avoid taking vitamin E since it can increase the risk of developing a stroke.
  • Individuals with a previous history of heart attacks or stroke must avoid taking vitamin E at all to avoid fatal outcomes.
  • Individuals with bleeding disorders must totally avoid consuming vitamin E since it is potentially a blood thinning agent, and will increase the chances of developing hemorrhage. Due to these effects, it is even known to increase the chances of developing hemorrhage in vital organs. For similar reasons, it must not be consumed following any surgical or invasive procedures.
  • Vitamin E also possesses the risk of developing certain types of cancer, like that of the prostate. It can also increase the likelihood of recurrence of cancers if you have been treated off it previously.
  • Vitamin E supplements also increase the risk of heart failure and hospitalizations due to the same.

Being a powerful antioxidant, vitamin E is known to protect skin and hair from damage by free radicals, the mechanism of which has been discussed above. Other than improving skin and hair health, vitamin E has profound benefits and is also effective in boosting immune mechanism by fighting against viruses, bacteria, and other pathogenic organisms. It also helps the formation of RBCs and utilization of vitamin K by the body. Other than that, it has protective functions on various organs and systems due to its antioxidative properties, which helps in enhancing bodily functions and the overall mechanism of the body.

  • For younger looking skin: Vitamin E is one of the perfect supplements you can get for your skin. It has a moisturising and soothing effect on your skin, which is helpful in preventing dry skin conditions. Also, it reduces the risk of acne and delays skin ageing.
  • For long and healthy hair: Addition of vitamin E in your hair care routine is helpful in improving hair health. It helps restore natural hair oils and provide you with longer and lustrous hair.
  • Improves eyesight: Vitamin E rich foods are widely suggested by ophthalmologists to preserve vision and improve eyesight. It is indicated that addition of vitamin E to diet prevents age-related eye disorders such as cataract and macular degeneration.
  • Prevents dementia: Research studies demonstrate that vitamin E deficiency is associated with a higher risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s. On the other hand, supplementation of vitamin E is indicated to be helpful in improving cognition in case of Alzheimer’s.
  • Reduces the risk of heart attack: As a natural antioxidant, vitamin E strengthens heart muscles and reduce the risk of blood clot formation in arteries. Hence, reducing the risk of stroke and heart attack.
  1. Vitamin E for immunity
  2. Vitamin E and cancer
  3. Vitamin E and dementia
  4. Vitamin E benefits for heart
  5. Vitamin E benefits for skin
  6. Vitamin E for eyes
  7. Vitamin E oil for hair

Vitamin E for immunity

Being a potent antioxidant, vitamin E has protective actions and is effective in modulating host immune functions. As per studies of various researchers, it has been demonstrated that vitamin E has beneficial effects on the host immune system and the deficiency of this vitamin is often linked with an increased prevalence of infectious diseases and a higher susceptibility to tumors.

In states of decreased cellular immunity, as a consequence of aging or during immunocompromised states like the development of AIDS, cancer, etc, supplementation with this vitamin has been found to be highly effective. It is also known to enhance recovery and to promote early recovery in compromised tissues receiving therapies like chemo or radiation. Due to these findings, it has been suggested that vitamin E is an essential nutrient and its supplementation is highly effective and necessary, especially during older age.

(Read more: How to improve immunity)

Vitamin E and cancer

The protective and immune boosting activities of vitamin E have already been discussed, but the results of the effects of vitamin E on cancer cells directly is still debatable. However, there is ample evidence that supplementation of vitamin E in the diet in the form of natural sources is highly cancer-protective, but supplementation with a specific type of vitamins in the form of pills or additional supplements is not recommended since the effects have not been studied well and can prove to be counteractive.

Vitamin E and dementia

The protective functions of vitamin E and its properties to restore damage caused to body cells suggest the use of this vitamin in the prevention of progression of symptoms in Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, both characterized by memory loss and reduced capability in performing daily tasks. Oxidative stress which advances with the age has been known to cause these age-related changes in individuals; vitamin E is known to be counteractive to oxidative stress and can thus be helpful in such patients.

It has been recognized that patients suffering from this disease have a lower concentration of vitamin E in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and plasma, which could be responsible for the degenerating changes occurring in the body. Considering these findings, research has demonstrated that the use of vitamin E is likely to avoid the progression of symptoms in Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, particularly in early stages.

Its effects are not so pronounced in advanced stages of the disease, and cannot reverse the symptoms or the damage caused to the brain. However, an improved ability in performing daily activities like eating, cleaning, bathing, etc has been observed among patients affected with an advanced stage dementia or AD with supplementation of vitamin E.

No side effects or toxicity have been observed in case of these supplementations, but the patients must be carefully monitored while on these supplementations.

(Read more: How to increase brain power)

Vitamin E benefits for heart

Vitamin E has cardioprotective functions due to its abilities to reduce oxidative stress. They have been found to exceptionally help in reducing the risk of heart diseases and stroke since they prevent the formation of clots. Excessive clot formation or clogging of veins increases the risk of stroke and heart diseases, which can be managed by consumption of vitamin E. However, it must not be taken in excessively high amounts since that can be counteractive.

Vitamin E benefits for skin

Vitamin E is an essential nutrient and a natural anti-aging agent, which helps to prevent and treat fine lines and wrinkles surfacing the skin with advancing age. A recent study proved the benefits of vitamin E on the wrinkled skin; individuals who were given supplements of vitamin E showed improved skin elasticity and tone, which improved the appearance of facial wrinkles in them. It does so by fighting the damage caused to the skin by sun, pollutants and other harmful agents.

In addition to fighting damage, vitamin E substitutes are also used to manage dry skin and have been successfully used for the treatment and prevention of acne as well. The benefits of vitamin E for the skin are countless and it has been used in the field of dermatology since the 1950s. For the best results on dry skin, vitamin E oil can be mixed with a regular night cream or lotion. Being a natural moisturizing agent, it will help to restore natural moisture of dry skin. Thus, it is also used in the treatment of cracked skin or chapped lips, in which, topical application of vitamin E oil helps to cure dryness at these sites.

(Read more: Acne treatment)

These benefits have been confirmed by various studies. As per a clinical study published in the ‘Journal of Plastic, Reconstructive & Aesthetic Surgery’, 2010, it was demonstrated that child patients who received vitamin E therapy following a recent surgery developed no scars. Subjects were divided into two groups blindly, wherein one was given topical applications of vitamin E thrice daily for 15 days before the surgery and twice daily application at 30 days postsurgically; the other (control) group was given a topical petrolatum-based ointment in a similar way, at the surgical site. As compared to 0% scar formation in the vitamin E group, 6.5% subjects developed scars in the control group after a duration of six months.

This demonstrates the miraculous effects of vitamin E on your skin and encourages you to unquestionably add this wonder vitamin in your daily skin care routine for a healthy and glowing skin.

Vitamin E for eyes

As most of you are aware, nuts and seeds are renowned for their beneficial effects on the eye and are also considered to be a provenance of good eyesight and vision. These foods contain vitamin E in rich amounts, which is responsible for these protective and functional actions on the eye.

Ophthalmologists widely prescribe supplementation of vitamin E rich foods in the diet along with the addition of a daily multivitamin for preventive and protective eye care. It has also been confirmed by several studies that daily supplementation with vitamin E lowers the risk of advancing to a later stage in age-related muscular dystrophy (AMD) by 25%. The recommended dosage for these effects is 400 IU. However, the recommended daily intake of this vitamin is 22.5 IU (1 IU is equal to 0.9 mg of tocopherol).

Other studies have also evidenced that alpha-tocopherol (a component of vitamin E) along with lutein and zeaxanthin reduces the risk of developing cataracts. However, these should not be taken without a prior prescription and thorough knowledge of side effects.

Vitamin E oil for hair

Did you know vitamin E is an essential ingredient in most of the beauty, cosmetic and hair products that you use? This can be attributed to the astounding effects of this vitamin of your body cells. While protecting body cells, vitamin E is also effective in promoting new growth and repairing damage caused to cells. By minimizing the damage caused by free radicals, vitamin E protects your hair from unwanted dryness and frizz, making them easily manageable. Its rejuvenating properties promote hair health and amplify hair growth. Let us guide you on the benefits of vitamin E for your hair and how you can make the best use of this vitamin for best achieving these benefits.

Vitamin E for hair loss

Vitamin E is known to prevent hair fall or hair loss and is widely used in the process of hair regrowth in individuals suffering from hair loss. It does so by reducing oxidative stress, which is known to be the causative factor of hair loss in individuals. (Read more: Remedies for hair loss)

Vitamin E for long hair

You can now have those luscious long tresses you have been dreaming of, just by adding vitamin E in your daily routine. Vitamin E enhances the health of your scalp, along with increasing the number of hair follicles and their size, which promotes effective hair growth. A better scalp circulation and flow thereby ensure that your long locks are perfectly shiny and healthy and do not get dry or frizzy as they grow more.

Vitamin E for healthy hair and scalp

When your hair loses its natural moisture and oils, it becomes frizzy and dry. Vitamin E helps in avoiding the loss of natural oils from your hair by forming a protective barrier or covering over your scalp. This helps in avoiding interactions with the external environment and pollutants and locking in moisture. While vitamin E helps in restoring your natural hair oils, it also prevents excess oil production. These effects of vitamin E are sure to give you a healthy scalp and shiny hair.

For having your dream hair, you can include vitamin E in your diet by including the aforementioned sources. Additionally, you can also take vitamin E capsules and supplements to enhance hair, scalp and skin health. Use of skin care or hair care products which inherently contain vitamin E is also helpful. Vitamin E is commonly present in certain oils, skin lotions, creams, hair gels, shampoos and conditioners, which can be found on the label. Use of these products topically is equally effective. However, you should not use supplements and tablets unless recommended by your physician or dermatologist.

Vitamin E is naturally present in foods like

  • Green leafy vegetables like spinach, cabbage, broccoli, turnip greens, certain peppers, beans and legumes.
  • Avocado.
  • Salmon fish.
  • Seafood.
  • Lean Meat.
  • Eggs.
  • Nuts such as almonds, peanuts, hazelnuts, filberts, pine nuts.
  • Seeds such as sunflower seeds.
  • Certain vegetable oils like sunflower oil, safflower oil, corn, soybean oil, wheat germ oil.
  • Fish oil.
  • Certain packaged food materials like fruit juices or breakfast cereals.  

Other than these sources, vitamin E is also available in the form of tablets, supplements, and capsules, which are often used to enhance immunity or as a common skin supplement.

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References

  1. National Institutes of Health; Office of Dietary Supplements. [Internet]. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services; Vitamin E.
  2. MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia: US National Library of Medicine; Vitamin E
  3. Hahn HJ et al. Instrumental evaluation of anti-aging effects of cosmetic formulations containing palmitoyl peptides, Silybum marianum seed oil, vitamin E and other functional ingredients on aged human skin. Exp Ther Med. 2016 Aug;12(2):1171-1176. Epub 2016 Jun 9. PMID: 27446338
  4. Moriguchi S, Muraga M. Vitamin E and immunity. Vitam Horm. 2000;59:305-36. PMID: 10714244
  5. Chung S. Yang, Nanjoo Suh, Ah-Ng Tony Kong. Does Vitamin E Prevent or Promote Cancer?. May 2012 Volume 5, Issue 5. American Association for Cancer Research. [Internet]
  6. Breana Cervantes, Lynn M. Ulatowski. Vitamin E and Alzheimer’s Disease—Is It Time for Personalized Medicine?. Antioxidants (Basel). 2017 Sep; 6(3): 45. PMID: 28672782
  7. Evans JR, Lawrenson JG. Antioxidant vitamin and mineral supplements for slowing the progression of age-related macular degeneration.. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2017 Jul 31;7:CD000254. PMID: 28756618
  8. Huwait EA. Combination of vitamin E and L-carnitine is superior in protection against Isoproterenol-induced cardiac affection: a histopathological evidence. Folia Morphol (Warsz). 2018 Aug 14. PMID: 30106462