Strengthen Your Immune System with Antioxidant Vitamin E
One of the biggest threats to our immune system and skin are free radicals. Free radicals, which can be found in environmental toxins like tobacco, alcohol, ultraviolet rays, and pollution, have the power to cause damage to your cells and DNA, play a role in diseases like cancer, diabetes, and heart disease, and is one of the main contributors to the aging process of our skin. To combat free radicals, getting enough of the antioxidant vitamin E will help protect your cells from oxidative stress.
Plus, vitamin E will strengthen your immune system to ensure your body functions efficiently, protect your body from illness or infection, and boost immunity overall. What’s not to love? If you’re looking for more ways to support a healthy immune system, these are the must-know facts about the antioxidant vitamin E.
- Antioxidants are recommended for protecting your cells from free radical damage, which can damage the skin and contribute to a number of health concerns.
- Vitamin E is a fat-soluble antioxidant that limits the production of free radicals and is believed to help prevent or delay chronic diseases associated with free radical damage
- Studies have shown that vitamin E can also improve scalp and hair health.
What is Antioxidant Vitamin E and How Does it Strengthen the Immune System?
Antioxidants are recommended by healthcare professionals for protecting your cells from free radical damage, which can damage genetic material and contribute to a number of health concerns, such as cardiovascular disease, eye disorders/vision loss, cognitive decline, and cancer (1).
If you’re wondering exactly how antioxidants fight against free radicals
– they give, or donate, electrons to the electron-stealing free radicals so they don’t overly damage our cells from oxidative stress (2). If the body doesn’t have enough protection from antioxidants to neutralize the free radicals, the lipid layers of the cells can specifically be damaged and cause an imbalance of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids.
The common substances besides vitamin E that act as antioxidants include:
- vitamin C
A number of things are considered free radicals from your environment because the body can sometimes form after exercising and can easily be produced after exposure to cigarette smoke, air pollution, and excess sun exposure without protection. To combat this, the antioxidant vitamin E is recommended to help support the immune system when it’s under attack.
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble antioxidant that limits the production of free radicals and is believed to help prevent or delay chronic diseases associated with free radical damage (1). ‘Fat-soluble’ refers to the ability for a compound to dissolve in fats and oils. Antioxidant vitamin E can fight inflammation and invasive bacteria and viruses on top of oxidative stress because of its support on improving the immune system and overall health. Plus, vitamin E can work with selenium to help prevent the breakdown of certain enzymes that are vital to your body’s metabolism (3).
What Else Does It Support?
Other than supporting the immune system, the antioxidant vitamin E also supports the skin and hair. As mentioned above, free radical damage contributes to the aging process of the skin due to the damage from environmental factors like excess sun exposure. This includes sun spots, wrinkles, loss of collagen/elasticity, and duller skin.
For this reason, vitamin E is commonly added to beauty products and has been used in dermatology since the 1950s to help protect the skin and maintain healthy skin.
Beyond this, research has shown that vitamin E can also improve scalp and hair health by preventing hair loss, preventing dryness, reducing oxidative stress on the scalp, improving scalp circulation by increasing blood flow, balancing oil production, locking in moisture for the skin and scalp, adding shine to the hair, and reducing breakage (4).
Besides supplements and getting vitamin E from nutrient-rich foods, vitamin E oil is used – especially in beauty and skincare products – to prevent skin irritation, prevent frizzy hair, and moisturize the skin. Vitamin E oil is typically found in oil form, added to shampoos and conditioners, hair masks, face masks, and more.
Where Do You Get Antioxidant Vitamin E?
Luckily, antioxidant vitamin E is naturally found in a lot of the yummy foods you might already have in your fridge. It’s not entirely common for people to have antioxidant vitamin E supplements since deficiency symptoms are rare; however, some disorders can put others at risk. Disorders that affect the absorption of fat, such as cystic fibrosis, Crohn’s disease, or liver disease, may lead to vitamin E deficiency over time because the digestive tract requires fat to absorb antioxidant vitamin E (1).
Studies have shown that those with deficiencies who have been taking antioxidant vitamin E supplements in the form of alpha-tocopherol have protected their lung tissue against oxidative damage successfully (5).
Rich sources of antioxidant vitamin E can also be found in nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables – such as:
- sunflower and pumpkin seeds
- peanuts (and peanut butter!), pecans, cashews, and pistachios
- leafy greens like spinach and kale
- pine nuts
- fat-free and low-fat dairy products like milk, yogurt, and cheese
- whole grains
- lean meats, poultry, eggs, and seafood
- beans, green beans, peas, and lentils
- soy products
- red peppers
- avocado, tomatoes, blackberries, mangoes, kiwis, apricots, and raspberries
- soybean, sunflower, grapeseed, palm, corn, almond, hazelnut, wheat germ, vegetable and canola oils
- broccoli, butternut squash, and asparagus
To know when to incorporate more vitamin E into your diet or to boost your daily intake, it helps to know the common signs and symptoms of vitamin E deficiencies to prevent issues with your immune system or necessary bodily functions. Symptoms include nerve and muscle damage, muscle weakness and lethargy, loss of body movement control, vision issues, and loss of feelings in the arms and legs (6).
Written by Selena Ponton