Thursday, September 23, 2010

2.11j What About Vitamin E?

Physician's Notebooks 2  - - See Homepage 
Chapter on Vitamins Continues
2.11j: Vitamin E - Update 11 November 2018

Vitamin E is as much puzzling as popular. Almost everyone is or has been taking it for anti-oxidant effect or to prevent aging or against heart disease or to stop “free radical” damage. Yet, more than 75 years since first noted as the 5th nutritional factor, after vitamins A, B-complex, C and D; still, the researchers are trying to nail down its function.
   What we call vitamin E is the tocopherols (formula R-OH, in which R is made up of benzene-like cyclic CH structure). The vitamin E in foods and pills is “alpha-tocopherol”. Best food source is margarine, seed and nut (esp. sunflower), vegetable cooking oil (safflower and sunflower best), and wheat germ. (My mom filled me with wheat germ! Maybe that's why I'm still here, on my feet with wit and wits at 86)
   The vitamin E unit is milligram (mg) or International Unit (IU). 1 IU=1 mg. Single dose pill is from 100 to 1000 IU. Vitamin E in food is reported on bottle or box as IU per serving. 
Digestion, Metabolism, and Function: Vitamin E needs to be eaten with a little fat. A fat-free diet would eventually result in a deficiency. Vitamin E requires adequate digestive juices as well as bile, for absorption. Malabsorption due to chronic diarrhea or liver disease and pancreas disease can lead to deficiency.
   After being absorbed from the intestine into the blood, vitamin E is stored in the liver, which has such a large capacity that more than a year of lack of vitamin E may be needed for first deficiency, if one starts previously well-nourished.
   Being anti-oxidant is not a specific vitamin E quality since its anti-oxidant function can be replaced by Selenium or vitamin C.
   A vitamin E-free diet, after months, results in hemolytic anemia, poor spinal cord and cerebellar function (tremors, staggering) with paralysis, and muscle damage. Heart and reproductive function failure also occur.
Intestinal malabsorption and stomach surgery that leaves blind pouches also may show the vitamin E deficiency syndrome.
Megavitamin Use: Vitamin E has been swallowed at doses upwards of 5000 IU a day, with underwhelming effect. (I know; I did it)
   Vitamin E is relatively safe but if you are at risk to hemorrhage, high-dose E could push you over an edge; and if you have an immunity problem (AIDS, lack of spleen, leukemia, very old age), it might impair white blood cell immune function. Dose as low as 800 mg (800 IU) a day has been reported to increase rate of hemorrhagic brain stroke. (At risk are high BP, migraine sufferer, users of Coumadin, or Warfarin, against internal blood clottingand the elderly)  I would not spend money on vitamin E.
      Chapter Continues Next Section. Click 2.11k Vitamin K and Omega-3 Fatty Acid

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