Vitamin E

“Vitamin E” is the collective name for a group of fat-soluble compounds with distinctive antioxidant activities.  It resides in the cell membranes to protect the cell against free radical damage from oxidation reactions which results in cancer and cardiovascular injury. This is the link between anti-ageing and vitamin E as it might help prevent or delay the chronic diseases associated with free radicals.  The body is also exposed to free radicals from environmental exposures, such as cigarette smoke, air pollution, and ultraviolet radiation from the sun. ROS are part of signalling mechanisms among cells.

Vitamin E is found naturally in some foods, added to others, and available as a dietary supplement. Vitamin E is naturally found in many food sources such as almonds, beef, corn, egg yolks, nuts, safflower, sunflower seeds, green leafy vegetables and wheat germ.

The actions of Vitamin E within the body are:

  • lipid-soluble antioxidant
  • enhances immunity and modulates
  • traps free radicals
  • maintains lipid membrane integrity
  • regulates the synthesis of sex hormones
  • improves blood flow
  • inhibits platelet aggregation (thrombi/ clog formation)
  • stabilises normal growth maintenance, fertility and gestation

Vitamin E is an essential nutrient for the reproductive system as it contains small amounts of oestrogen and is essential for the proper functioning of the blood and for the production of oestrogen, which may explain why it helps decrease or eliminate hot flashes. Vitamin E has the ability to relieve vaginal dryness and painful intercourse also, a beneficial use for reducing this problematic symptom of menopause.

Serum concentrations of vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) depend on the healthy functioning of the liver, which takes up the nutrient after the various forms are absorbed from the small intestine. The liver preferentially re-secretes only alpha-tocopherol via the hepatic alpha-tocopherol transfer protein; the liver metabolises and excretes the other vitamin E forms.

Vitamin E supplements come in different forms and dosages.  For example a multivitamin tablet will contain approximately 30 IU of vitamin E, whereas a Vitamin E only supplement will contain between 100-1000IU.  To maintain the symptoms of menopause such as hot flushes, thinning of the vaginal wall, skin irritations and supporting the cardiovascular system it is recommended to take 400IU of Vitamin E daily.  The form of Vitamin E commonly found in supplementation is the naturally available form (not synthetic) d-alpha Tocopherol.