Why is Vitamin E important?
Vitamin E has impact on a lot of bodily functions including immunity. It was discovered in 1922 by Evans and Bishop. They discovered that laboratory rats failed to reproduce when lard was their only source of good fat. They reported that there was a compound in both wheat germ and lettuce that correlated to the problem. The unknown component was termed the anti-sterility factor! In 1925, Evans decided that the component should be renamed vitamin E since that was the last vitamin to be discovered after the discovery of vitamin D. Evans and his coworkers isolated vitamin E from wheat germ, corn oil and cotton seed oil in 1936 and in 1938, it was synthesised by Paul Karrer and his people. Later, its biochemical function as an antioxidant was known. In 1968, Vitamin E was finally recognised as an essential nutrient for humans.
Functions of Vitamin E:
• The major function of vitamin E is that of an antioxidant preventing the propagation of free radical reactions. Free radicals are formed during normal metabolic processes and upon exposure to toxic agents such as cigarette smoke, pollution and so on.
• Vitamin E is found within the cellular membranes. It protects polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) and other components of the cellular membranes from oxidation by the free radicals.
• It has been connected to preventing cardiovascular diseases and also preventing some cancers.
• It contributes to the immune system function and is involved in DNA repair.
• It also plays a role in fertility
• Vitamin E may also play a role in prevention of age related macular degeneration of eyes, cataract and lower risk of contracting upper respiratory tract infection in the elderly.
Vitamin E-rich Foods
The best source of Vitamin E are vegetable oils, nuts like almonds and peanuts whole grains, green leafy vegetables, seeds like sunflower seeds, tomatoes, apples and carrots – making them Vitamin E-rich foods.
The vitamin E content of vegetable, fruits, dairy products, fish and meat is relatively low. Certain spices like red cayenne or chilli, turmeric or haldi, cumin seeds or jeera, caraway seeds or kala jeera, mustard or rai also contain vitamin E.
Vitamin E Deficiency, Causes and Consequences
Adequate amount of vitamin E levels are essential for the body to function properly. Vitamin E deficiency is rare, however if the diet consists of refined foods, fried foods, foods containing preservatives and other additives, there is risk of inadequate intake and deficiency. Use of certain medications in some diseases like heart disease, chronic liver disease, neurodegenerative diseases, pancreatic diseases and mal-absorption of fat may tend to reduce the utilization of vitamin E in the body and cause deficiency.
Though vitamin deficiency is rare, low intake of vitamin E for longer duration can result in the following:
• Leg cramps
• Lack of energy
• Poor immunity
• Impaired balance and coordination
• Ageing and pigmentation of skin
People at a risk of vitamin E deficiency include those with severe malnutrition, genetic defects that compromise the transport of the vitamin in the body and fat mal-absorption.
Consuming Vitamin E rich foods help to increase the antioxidant capacity of the body leading to better immunity. Having a balanced diet can help you avoid Vitamin E deficiency and keep you healthy. Make sure you don’t miss out on including the sources of this Vitamin in your diet.
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