Vitamin E is not a single substance, but a group of substances that includes four kinds of tocopherol, and four kinds of tocotrienol (alpha, beta, gamma and delta). In humans, alpha-tocopherol is the most effective form.
Vitamin E supplements usually contain only alpha-tocopherol. As the essential vitamins, vitamin E can not be produced by the body so we must get them from food. The main source of vitamin E are vegetables, fruits and grains such as corn, papaya, avocado, soybean and cooking oil.
Vitamin E can damaged by warming and storage. Food processing industry, often add synthetic vitamin E into the food to compensate for the loss.
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Vitamin E has several functions in the body. Like vitamins C and A, vitamin E is a natural antioxidant that works as a neutralizing free radicals, destructive molecules aggressive body cells. The number of free radicals can be increased by stress, smoking or exposure to sunlight. Because free radicals increase the risk of diseases such as cancer, heart attack or cataracts, antioxidants can reduce the risk of these diseases to some extent. Vitamin E is also supports the body’s defenses and protect against atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).
Requirement of vitamin E
Units of vitamin E is expressed in milligrams and IU (International Units) that is a special unit for vitamins and other biologically active substances. IU definition is different between the vitamin. There is no equality between the different vitamins and even among species within a group of vitamins. For instance, one IU of vitamin E did not have the number of milligrams of which is equal to one IU of vitamin A. One IU natural vitamin E has a different number of milligrams of vitamin E synthesis.
We just need vitamin E in very small amounts every day, only 14 milligrams for adult men and 12 milligrams for adult women. Pregnant and lactating women require a little more. Requirement of vitamin E also increased in people who smoke, stress, heart disease and has a weak immunity.
The most commonly recommended amount for vitamin E supplementation in adults is 400 to 800 IU per day. However, some experts suggest that simply taking 100 to 200 IU per day, because long-term study showed that there was no additional benefits from intake which exceeds that amount.
Vitamin E deficiency
Vitamin E deficiency is rare. Most people get enough vitamin E through their diet. Vitamin E is a fat soluble vitamin, which means that our bodies can store these vitamins in the liver as a backup. As long as you eat a variety of foods such as vegetables, fruits, grains and moderate amounts of unsaturated fats from vegetable oils, you get enough vitamin E every day.
Supplements of vitamin E is not required.
Our bodies will take vitamin E from reserves in the liver if we get less intake of vitamin E from food. We will experience a deficiency of vitamin E, if we continually have diet low vitamin E.
Apart from lack of intake, vitamin E deficiency can be caused by the disorder absorption of the intestine (for example, malabsorption of fat) and other problems. People with genetic defects in proteins that transfer of vitamin E, called thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP) have severe vitamin E deficiency, characterized by low blood pressure and progressive neurological disorders.
Elderly people with diabetes is also tend to show a significant decrease of vitamin E in their blood serum, irrespective from their diet. Severe deficiency of vitamin E can give symptoms such as poor concentration, muscle weakness, and increased susceptibility to infection.
Overdose of vitamin E
As the fat-soluble vitamins, vitamin E can accumulate in the body, making it more risky than other vitamin overdose are soluble in water. High doses of vitamin E daily (especially if taken in the long run) can cause several problems, such as fatigue, weakness, headache, nausea, diarrhea, abdominal pain, bloating, and increased risk of bleeding (which can cause dangerous internal bleeding).