Written by Ravinder Lilly - Dietitian and Health Writer
Whether free radicals are produced naturally or are the result of stress, smoking, alcohol, poor diet or pollution, antioxidant vitamins and plant chemicals can help to protect your body cells from damage. Vitamin A, C and E are potent free-radical fighters.
So what exactly are free radicals?
Free radicals are tiny thieves – they’re produced as a natural part of metabolism but they’re also triggered by stress, alcohol, poor diet, pollution and smoking. Your body has a number of ways to protect itself from damage by free radicals, but a build-up of them is linked with conditions like heart disease and cancers.
This month we’re focussing on one particular ACE vitamin – vitamin E
Like vitamin A, vitamin E is fat-soluble. But unlike other fat-soluble vitamins, your body can’t retain as much of it so regularly choosing wholegrain foods including seeds and nuts can help to keep your E levels topped up. In fact, the less processed the grain, the better. That’s because, like fibre which is essential for a healthy digestive system, the outer coat of the grain also contains vitamin E. So when grains are processed, both of these important food components are discarded.
Now back to why you need your E…
Because it is an antioxidant, vitamin E helps protect the cells from damaging oxidation (that can occur after free radical attack) in particular, helping to protect against the oxidation of LDL-cholesterol. LDL-cholesterol can be potentially harmful because it deposits cholesterol to body cells. When LDL-cholesterol is oxidised and there is too much of it, deposits build-up in the arteries, narrowing blood flow and depriving cells – including the cells of the heart and brain – of vital oxygen and nutrients. Raised levels of LDL-cholesterol are linked with conditions such as heart disease and strokei. People who have problems absorbing foods and those choosing very-low-fat diets can also be left short of vitamin E.
And a special note for smokers
Another major group of people who could do with an increase in vitamin E are smokers.
Studies have shown that smokers lose stores of vitamin E faster than non-smokers. And, loss of this valuable free radical fighter may reveal one way that smoking causes cancer.
For example, researchers from the Linus Pauling Institute in the United States have shown that blood concentration of vitamin E becomes depleted 13 per cent faster for smokers compared with non-smokers.
The study also gave an insight into how the antioxidant vitamins E and C work together to try and protect the body.
We’ve known that smoking depletes levels of vitamin C for a long time. But we also know now that having low levels of vitamin C can cause smokers to lose their small reserves of vitamin E faster and to a greater extent, too. The two seem to work together and since vitamin C is water soluble, you need to get a good intake (from veggies and fruits) daily. And, because it’s water-soluble, vitamin C protects in the watery liquids outside the cells while vitamin E provides antioxidant protection inside the cell membranes which contain fats.
When vitamin E levels are low
The loss of these vital protective antioxidants can play a role in the cancer process say the scientists. Inhaling cigarette smoke introduces a toxic mix of potential carcinogens, free radicals or oxidants that trigger cell mutations on the lung cells. Vitamin E is one of the first lines of defence against the carcinogens in cigarette smoke so getting enough is important.
When vitamin E levels are low, your body removes vitamin E from the cells to keep the blood levels to within normal concentrations. The E-deprived cells are then more vulnerable to toxins.
Need to top up your levels?
Try USANA’s E-Prime™ which contains 200 International Units of the most biologically active form of this potent, fat-soluble free radical fighter.
E-Prime is produced via a state-of-the-art manufacturing process with the active ingredient encased in a liquid hard-shell which boosts the bioavailability of E-Prime even further. You could say it’s an effective vitamin formulation in a powerful little package!
E-Prime is laboratory tested, quality guaranteed. Meets British Pharmacopoeia specifications for potency, uniformity, and disintegration where applicable.
Adults take two (2) E-Prime capsules daily, preferably with meals.
Vitamin supplements should not replace a balanced diet. USE ONLY AS DIRECTED. ALWAYS READ THE LABEL.
i: Association Between Circulating Oxidized Low-Density Lipoprotein and Incidence of the Metabolic Syndrome
Paul Holvoet, PhD; Duk-Hee Lee, MD, PhD; Michael Steffes, MD, PhD; Myron Gross, PhD; David R. Jacobs, PhD .JAMA. 2008;299(19):2287-2293. doi:10.1001/jama.299.19.2287. Accessed 8 February 2013. Available from: http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=181936
Labels: antioxidants, E-Prime, free radicals, nutrition, vitamin e