Vitamin E is best known for its antioxidant properties. Antioxidants are compounds that protect the body from 'free radicals', the by-products of energy metabolism that can damage cells and contribute to the development of diseases such as heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer's disease.
Health benefits of Vitamin E
- Heart disease - Vitamin E may delay coronary heart disease by limiting the breakdown of LDL (bad) cholesterol and may prevent the formation of blood clots.
- Cancer - Vitamin E helps protect cell membranes against the effects of free radicals and enhances immune functions.
- Alzheimer's disease - Vitamin E helps to protect brain cells from the damaging effects of oxygen. It may also help patients maintain 'daily living skills' longer. It also boosts the immune system which slows down the effects of aging.
- Diabetes - Vitamin E can improve glucose tolerance in people with diabetes and in those with normal glucose levels.
- Asthma - Vitamin E can reduce the swelling of the respiratory tract.
Though Vitamin E has numerous benefits, it is important to take it in the right quantity. Consuming excess of it can prove dangerous. A recent study conducted by John Hopkins University analyzed the results of 19 studies involving nearly 136,000 people taking vitamin E supplements. They found that individuals taking doses at or above 268 milligrams daily had a higher death rate compared to those not taking vitamin E supplements.
Another study showed that antioxidant supplements, including vitamin E, reduced the beneficial effect of certain cholesterol-lowering medications on blood cholesterol levels.
The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for vitamin E is 15 milligrams a day. It is recommended to fulfill this requirement by food sources rather than taking high doses of Vitamin E supplements. If it becomes necessary to use a supplement, always consult a doctor before doing so.