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Vitamin E is an absolutely vital nutrient in your body, but it probably can’t do half the things you heard it can.
What does vitamin E do? To begin, it is an antioxidant. It tames dangerous free radicals and helps prevent blood clots and blockages in coronary arteries. Research points to its ability to reduce the risk of chronic diseases, such as heart attacks and some cancers.
Vitamin E is also believed to slow the aging process and to help nerve conduction. Most importantly, it works to enhance and even protect vitamin C and Vitamin A.
There is also promising research that vitamin E might help prevent or slow the onset of cataracts in the eyes.
Vitamin E has been touted as a cure for just about everything but a broken heart. I am sure that’s coming, though. Here are just a few of the diseases and conditions vitamin E has been credited with curing or preventing:
Infertility in both men and women
eye tissue inflammation
PMS (pre-menstrual syndrome)
even restless leg syndrome!
It might well prove that vitamin is helpful in some of these and other conditions, but probably not in many or even most of them.
As with many vitamins, there is a raging debate over how much vitamin E you need. The US recommended daily allowance (RDA) is 8-10 milligrams per day. But most people in the nutrition field believe that to capture the long-term benefits, people need 10 to 20 times that quantity, which is well short of the maximum recommended 1,000 milligrams.
Vitamin E is found in many foods in small quantities. The good news is that almost everyone gets sufficient vitamin E to avoid a deficiency, with a few exceptions noted below. The bad news is that most people do not get the RDA. This is definitely a vitamin that should be supplemented.
Be careful about what supplements you choose, since the synthetic version of vitamin E is not even half effective as in its natural form. Look for nutritional supplements containing natural vitamin E, preferably in liquid form.
People on low fat diets need supplements the most, since fats and oils are the largest sources of vitamin E. Nuts and green, leafy vegetables are also good sources, as are egg yolks and liver. So are whole grains.
Vitamin E probably will never cure your broken heart, nor live up to half of the claims people make about it. But it is an important vitamin for maintaining good health and it is needed in quantities above what most people take in their diet.