Vitamin E is a nutrient that’s important to vision, reproduction, and the health of your blood, brain and skin.
Vitamin E also has antioxidant properties. Antioxidants are substances that might protect your cells against the effects of free radicals — molecules produced when your body breaks down food or is exposed to tobacco smoke and radiation. Free radicals might play a role in heart disease, cancer and other diseases. If you take vitamin E for its antioxidant properties, keep in mind that the supplement might not offer the same benefits as naturally occurring antioxidants in food.
Foods rich in vitamin E include canola oil, olive oil, margarine, almonds and peanuts. You can also get vitamin E from meats, dairy, leafy greens and fortified cereals. Vitamin E is also available as an oral supplement in capsules or drops.
Vitamin E deficiency can cause nerve pain (neuropathy).
The recommended daily amount of vitamin E for adults is 15 milligrams a day.
Research on vitamin E use for specific conditions shows:
- Alzheimer’s disease. Some research has shown that high-dose vitamin E might delay the progression of Alzheimer’s disease in people who have been diagnosed with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease. Other studies haven’t shown this benefit. Vitamin E supplements appear to have no effect on whether people with mild cognitive impairment progress to Alzheimer’s disease.
- Liver disease. Studies show that vitamin E might improve symptoms of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. However, some evidence suggests that taking oral vitamin E for this purpose for two years is linked to insulin resistance.
- Preeclampsia. Increasing your intake of vitamin E hasn’t been shown to prevent this pregnancy condition that affects blood pressure.
- Prostate cancer. Research shows that vitamin E and selenium supplements don’t prevent prostate cancer. There is also concern that use of vitamin E supplements might increase the risk of prostate cancer.
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