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The Vitamin E Antioxidant and You

What makes the Vitamin E antioxidant so special?

Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin and antioxidant. That means it is absorbed by the fat, or lipids, in your cells. It’s quite the “fat-loving” antioxidant as I like to call it and you should get at least 100mg (150 IU) per day.

What good does this do for you?

Every cell in your body has an outer protective barrier around it. Think of a castle that has a brick wall surrounding the castle. The outer protective barrier around your cells is much like the brick wall surrounding the castle. And this outer protective barrier is mostly composed of fat.

So in essence Vitamin E helps to protect the cell’s outer protective barrier from free radicals.

This is important because that barrier is your cells first defense against damage caused by either free radicals or other harmful things, like bacteria and viruses. And damage to your cell barrier is the first step towards a dark path for cancer, heart disease and other degenerative diseases.

I may be getting a little dramatic but it is important in protecting the cell barrier so free radicals don’t intrude and get to the goods of your cells (i.e. the mitochondria, DNA).

A good example/ experiment is with butter. I’m talking about real butter – the good ol’ fashion fatty kind. Let it sit out for a while and watch what happens. It’ll start to turn colors and become rancid.

This is similar to what happens when free radicals attack the outer protective barrier of your cells. It will break down the outer protective barrier and your cells will begin to “rot,” or breakdown, and may eventually rupture (meaning cell death).

So how does the Vitamin E antioxidant
work exactly?

We said earlier that the outer protective cell barrier is made of fat and Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin. Vitamin E will become a part of the cell barrier and will grab on to free radicals who try to “steal” from the cell barrier.

To keep you in the loop, the thing free radicals try to steal is hydrogen. And it’s specifically the peroxyl free radical who is trying to steal your hydrogen.

Fortunately since Vitamin E is stored within the cell barrier it will donate hydrogen to the peroxide free radical. The peroxide radical becomes happy since it has a hydrogen now and the Vitamin E molecule, with the help of Vitamin C, will regain a hydrogen and be happy as well.

Vitamin E antioxidant benefits

Here is a basic run-down of what you could expect. If you really want to break out the magnifying glass for more info, check out the Benefits section.

  • Prevents LDL’s (bad cholesterol) from breaking down, or “rotting.” The “rotting” I’m referring to is called lipid peroxidation. This will prevent plaque build-up in your arteries (aka. atherosclerosis)
  • Enhances your immune system (especially helpful for older adults)
  • Helps to reduce the risk of some cancers
  • Can aid in preventing male infertility
  • Beneficial in fighting off various cardiovascular diseases
  • Great for your skin. Vitamin E helps to get rid of scars and aids in keeping your skin healthy – giving you that youthful, age-defying look

These are just some of the possible benefits of Vitamin E as an antioxidant.

I should mention that most of these Vitamin E antioxidant benefits occur when you start to take at least 100mg per day. And it’s rather difficult to get that much Vitamin E on a daily basis from food alone since there is a limited amount of foods high in Vitamin E.

To get 100mg, it would take about 8oz of sunflower seeds (which has more than 1300 calories), swallow 14 cups of wheat germ or 22 tablespoons of safflower oil (more than 2600 calories).

You may be thinking, “Yuck, that’s a lot of calories from fat.”

In this case, supplements are the best option if you want to get at least 100mg per day. In the Vitamin E Facts section I go into detail about the different types of Vitamin E compounds.

But let’s get you the important information you need to start supplementing correctly.

Vitamin E supplement guide

You have a choice between natural and synthetic Vitamin E. Natural Vitamin E is more expensive but better for you in the long run.

When you look at the labels, you’ll know it’s natural Vitamin E because it’ll say “d-alpha-tocopherol” while the synthetic version will say “dl-alpha-tocopherol.”

If you can get a mixed supplement with all the tocopherols & tocotrienols (8 in total) then go for it. But almost all Vitamin E supplements come in the alpha-tocopherol form.

And unless you have trouble digesting fats, go for the wet form. You’ll see this in either a softgel capsule or as an oil. If you decide on the dry version, go with the succinate version.

So your best supplement option for Vitamin E:

A mixed Vitamin E supplement -or- the wet, natural “d-alpha-tocopherol” form in either a softgel capsule or oil. 

How much should you take per day?

The Institute of Medicine says to take at least 15mg per day.

But if you want the full benefits of the Vitamin E antioxidant then take at least 100mg (150 IU) per day.

The upper limit is 1000mg per day, about 1500 IU.

And as always, consult a doctor first if you are on any medications (especially blood-thinning and/or heart medications).

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