Vitamin E plays a role in the prevention and treatment of many health conditions. As an antioxidant, it reduces oxidative damage, lowers inflammation, supports your immune system and has an anticancer action. It’s been found to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease and lower your risk of age-related macular degeneration and cataracts. Vitamin E is also helpful in maintaining healthy hair and youthful skin and can be used topically to remedy several skin ailments, from sunburn to acne.
Boosts Hair Growth and Repairs Damaged Hair
Oxidative stress is linked to hair loss, and the antioxidant action of vitamin E counters this, protecting your hair from damage. It moisturizes and rejuvenates hair cells, which is why some people choose to apply vitamin E oil topically to hair.
However, research shows that vitamin E provides the most benefit to hair when taken internally. In a 2010 study on volunteers with hair loss, one group took vitamin E supplements for 8 months, while another group took a placebo. By the end of the study, the vitamin E group had a 35 percent increase in the number of hairs that appeared within balding spots. By contrast, the placebo group had a 0.1 percent decrease in hair within their balding spots.
Protects and Heals Your Skin
The antioxidant capabilities of Vitamin E makes it protective for skin, especially against UV radiation exposure that results in sunburn and sun damage. UV radiation produces free radicals on the skin, which are unstable molecules that cause cellular and DNA damage. This effect advances the observable progression of aging and can potentially lead to cancer. Pollution, smoking and exposure to toxins can also increase free radical production on the skin. Research shows that taking vitamin E with vitamin C (another antioxidant) internally protects the skin from UV and free radical damage.
Applying vitamin E topically also protects the skin. Studies have shown a reduction in free radicals and DNA damage when vitamin E is applied before sun exposure, as well as immediately after. More research points to the healing effects of vitamin E in cases of chronic inflammatory skin conditions, such as eczema and psoriasis.
Slows the Progression of Alzheimer’s Disease
Vitamin E’s anti-inflammatory qualities help protect brain function against cognitive decline associated with Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative conditions. In a 2-year study on 561 Alzheimer’s patients, 2,000 IU of vitamin E supplementation per day slowed cognitive decline compared to a placebo. Supplementing with vitamin E may slow the loss of memory and of independence in the case of Alzheimer’s. Additionally, vitamin E in combination with vitamin C has been shown to lower the risk of developing dementia.
Prevents and Helps Treat Cancer
In addition to fighting off free radicals from UV radiation, vitamin E can also help protect against radiation treatments for cancer. It’s also used to minimize the side effects of chemotherapy drugs that can cause hair loss and lung damage. Studies on animals have found that vitamin E supplementation suppresses the growth of tumors, kills cancer cells and turns off the genes tied to cancer. While this has only been proven in animal studies, the anticancer action of vitamin E has been seen in cases of liver, breast, skin and prostate cancers.
Improves and Protects Your Vision
Especially in combination with vitamin C, beta-carotene and zinc, vitamin E is shown to improve vision and lower your risk of age-related macular degeneration–the leading cause of blindness. Research has also linked vitamin E supplementation to a lower risk of age-related cataracts. High doses of vitamin E with beta-carotene have even been found to speed up healing after laser eye surgery.
Alleviates Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) and Menstrual Discomfort
Vitamin E has a balancing effect on hormones, helping to bring your endocrine and nervous systems to homeostasis. PMS is an effect of hormonal imbalance and can cause a range of monthly symptoms in women each month. Vitamin E can be taken internally to promote a regular cycle, reduce the severity and duration of menstrual cramps and alleviate cravings, anxiety and other PMS symptoms.
In one study, 41 menstruating women were given either 400 IU of vitamin E or a placebo for the course of three cycles. By the end of the study, the vitamin E group saw improvements in both emotional and physical symptoms of PMS. A study on 72 women found that vitamin E supplementation reduced menstrual migraines, nausea, light sensitivity and sound sensitivity in women with a history of menstrual migraines.
Gives Your Immune System a Boost
As an antioxidant, vitamin E helps boost the immune system and can help protect you from common viruses and more serious illnesses. The functioning of critical immune cells decline with age, but animal and human studies show that vitamin E helps preserve the immune system, slowing the effect of aging on immunity. In a study on healthy adults aged 60 and older, 30 days of vitamin E supplementation was found to improve parameters of immune function.
Getting Your Vitamin E
In foods, vitamin E is found in fruits and vegetables, certain oils, nuts, and grains. Wheat germ is also a significant source of vitamin E. You can also take vitamin E as a supplement to prevent deficiency and reap the benefits of higher doses. However, you should consult with a practitioner before taking doses of 1,500 IU or higher. Adults require 22.4 IU of vitamin E per day to avoid deficiency. To use vitamin E topically, you can find vitamin E oil, or open liquid capsules and apply the liquid to your skin or hair.
Vitamin E is an essential nutrient the body must attain from food or supplementation. It has incredible healing abilities for skin and hair, and its antioxidant properties help protect the body from disease. Vitamin E is shown to help protect your eyes, brain, skin and immune system from the common effects of aging. It can also help treat neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, alleviate PMS and even serve as an adjunctive treatment for cancer patients. The benefits of vitamin E supplementation have been widely researched, and it’s recommended by health and beauty professionals alike.