Your A to Z of Complementary Health & Healing


Vitamins and Minerals

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The benefits of vitamin E in your diet

Vitamin E is an umbrella term for a group of compounds called tocopherols and tocotrienols and is found in sunflower seeds, sunflower oil, almonds, mayonnaise, raw peanuts, peanut butter, blackberries, oats, sweet potatoes, asparagus, green leafy vegetables, and butter, to name but a few.

It functions primarily as an antioxidant and guards against free radical damage to the cell membranes, thereby keeping the cells protected against heavy metals like lead and mercury; toxic materials like benzene and cleaning solvents; drugs; radiation and toxins produced from over processed and burned food. It is even known to slow the aging process and protect against damage from second hand smoke and other pollutants.

A diet that is high in Vitamin E is important in protecting the immune system when the body goes into stress from damaging viral illnesses like AIDS and hepatitis.

Diabetics appear to have an increased need for vitamin E as it is able to improve insulin action and help to prevent the long term complications that are associated with the illness, like heart disease, kidney damage, eye problems and nerve damage.

Vitamin E also helps to strengthen the body against heart disease, stroke and cancer. It can be taken to assist in the treatment of acne, anemia, angina, infertility, herpes infections, cataracts, premenstrual syndrome, cold sores, impotence and skin ulcers.

Together with Vitamin C, this powerful antioxidant promises to assist in preventing and easing the complications of disorders like congestive heart failure, alcoholism, cancer, HIV infection, lupus, multiple sclerosis and nail problems.

When applied to the skin, vitamin E-containing creams or oils are believed to promote healing of burns, eczema and other skin problems. Many use the creams or oils to improve skin health.

Smokers and women who take the contraceptive pill will benefit considerably by taking extra Vitamin E as the cigarette smoke and extra hormones have a tendency to deplete the body of valuable Vitamin E reserves.

Vitamin E is sensitive to processing and is destroyed by heat, oxygen, freezing and the chlorine that is found in drinking water. Vegetables that have been frozen for more than two months will have very little Vitamin E left in them.

One can take Vitamin E as a supplement in tablet, softgel or capsule form. Please consult with your doctor first if you are unsure about the correct dosages or if you have high blood pressure and want to start taking Vitamin E. Do not take Vitamin E for three to four days before or after surgery, or if you are undergoing chemotherapy or radiation treatment for cancer.

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