Naturally Rockford: Vitamin E proves to be a powerful antioxidant

The antioxidant Vitamin E is believed to reduce the onset of Alzheimer’s disease by 64 to 78 percent, and decrease instances of cataracts, heart disease and, perhaps, cancer.

Vitamin E detoxifies free radicals, highly reactive by-products of metabolism, which may play a role in cardiovascular disease and cancer development. Vitamin E may block the formation of nitrosamines, carcinogens formed in the stomach from nitrates in food. It may boost the immune system. These all may be benefits. Human studies with Vitamin E versus incidence of certain types of cancer have been generally inconclusive.

Studies have found that lens clarity, which is used to diagnose cataracts, was better with regular intake of Vitamin E supplements. A study of middle-aged male smokers contradicted these studies. They didn’t show any improvements while ingesting Vitamin E supplements. The effects of smoking, a risk factor in developing cataracts, may have been the reason why. These results indicate a need for further studies before recommendation of Vitamin E in the prevention of cataracts.

Topical Vitamin E, such as lotions, may help blood circulation in diabetics, prevent and treat sunburn, and reduce the appearance of stretch marks. Surgical scarring doesn’t seem to be affected by topical treatments.

An observational trial conducted by The Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health found that when Vitamin E is taken daily in large doses (400-1,000 IU) in combination with Vitamin C (500-1,000 mg), the onset of Alzheimer’s was reduced. It has also been shown to stop neurological problems associated with cystic fibrosis, and stop liver disease if the problem is caught soon enough.

A study of approximately 90,000 nurses indicated the incidence of heart disease was 30 to 40 percent lower among high-dose intakes of Vitamin E from diet and supplements. Vitamin E prevents LDL cholesterol from turning into damaging oxidized LDL, an initiator of arterial plaque buildup, which can lead to heart disease (

One must be careful in taking vitamin E. Studies show taking too much E (more than 400 IU/day) can lead to hemorrhaging, and increased risk of death in older individuals with pre-existing medical conditions. Long-term detriments are still being weighed.

The type of Vitamin E taken needs to be considered as well. There are eight forms of Vitamin E, the most active in humans being alpha-tocopherol, a strong antioxidant. Vitamin E can be obtained naturally from vegetable oils, nuts, wheat germ, fortified grains, and green leafy vegetables. Synthetic (dl-alpha-tocopherol) forms are only half as active as the natural form. Natural Vitamin E supplements are labeled “D,” while synthetic supplements are labeled “D,L.” Both help in rounding out a healthy diet while providing assistance to people with Vitamin E deficiencies; those with Crohn’s disease, cystic fibrosis, inability to absorb fat, and infants with low birth weight. Recommended daily allowance of natural Vitamin E is 22.5 IU (15mg) for adults.

From the Sept. 28-Oct. 4, 2005, issue

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