The Role of Vitamin E
Vitamin E is actually a group of 8 compounds that are divided into tocopherols and tocotrienoles. In the typical human body, over 90% of vitamin E is in a special form (an isomer) called alpha-tocopherol. Most of this comes from vegetable and seed oils, soya beans, saffron, sunflower seeds, cereals, and nuts; because vitamin E is fat-soluble, we need the polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs) in these to ensure their vitamin E gets absorbed. We get very little vitamin E from animals.
Vitamin E has one major role in our bodies: IT IS A POTENT ANTIOXIDANT! As an antioxidant, vitamin E protects your body from damage caused by unstable free radicals. These are formed when our bodies convert the food we eat into energy. People are also exposed to free radicals in the environment by cigarette smoke, sunlight, pollution, and even oxygen! Vitamin E also helps to create red blood cells and helps Vitamin K function properly (for clotting when you are cut or a bleed).
Symptoms of vitamin E deficiency
- The nerves in your arms and legs do not work as well, causing numbness, weakness, and pins and needles. These symptoms are called peripheral neuropathy.
- You can find it difficult to walk (known as ataxia).
- Your muscles do not work as effectively and become damaged (known as skeletal myopathy).
- Eye damage and vision loss (known as retinopathy).
- Your immune system works less effectively, causing you to catch more viral and bacterial illnesses.
Who Should Get the Vitamin E Test?
Not only do you get the general antioxidant benefits, but researchers have found specific health benefits in heart disease. For example, a major study showed that low levels are associated with ischemic heart disease (angina and heart attacks), and a study in Cambridge confirmed that high doses (400 to 800 units per day) could reduce the risk of heart attack by 75 percent! Because it is transported around the body with LDL-cholesterol, it may also help reduce some of the health damage caused by this “bad” cholesterol. Finally, vitamin E has benefits in reducing the risk of cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.
What is Tested in the Vitamin E Test?
You will need one simple test:
At alpha Healthlabs, we don’t waste your time testing the unnecessary tocopherols and tocotrienoles, we check the levels of most common form.
What Will the Test Involve?
This test involves taking a small blood sample from a vein. We describe the process here .
What Could Abnormal Results Mean?*
On its own, no test can provide a definitive diagnosis, and can only provide important “clues” about possible problems. Normal results cannot entirely exclude disease: for example, normal results can exist in patients with serious disease, and occasionally, abnormal results can arise without any health problems. The normal ranges of tests can also vary between different laboratories, so it is not always possible to compare results directly.
At Alpha Healthlabs, we believe in giving you an unparalleled and ethically sound service. Therefore, the meaning of all your results will be explained and we will suggest the most appropriate next course of action. It is important that you do not initiate any action based on these results without first consulting your General Practitioner.
Common Issues Raised by This test
The common issues raised by this test include:
Low levels indicate that you could have a fat malabsorption problem from pancreatic, coeliac, or gallbladder disease. Alternatively, you may not consume enough polyunsaturated fats in the form or seeds, green leafy vegetables, nuts and so on. Low levels can result in the symptoms of deficiency.
How can I increase my levels?
Excellent sources of vitamin E include:
- Vegetable oils (wheat germ, sunflower, and safflower
- Nuts (peanuts, hazelnuts, and, almonds)
- seeds (sunflower seeds)
- Green vegetables (spinach and broccoli)
- Some breakfast cereals, fruit juices, margarines and spreads
- Vitamin E supplements